The phage T4 protein UvsW drives Holliday junction branch migration.
The phage T4 UvsW protein has been shown to play a crucial role in the switch from origin-dependent to recombination-dependent replication in T4 infections through the unwinding of origin R-loop initiation intermediates. UvsW also functions with UvsX and UvsY to repair damaged DNA through homologous recombination, and, based on genetic evidence, has been proposed to act as a Holliday junction branch migration enzyme. Here we report the purification and characterization of UvsW. Using oligonucleotide-based substrates, we confirm that UvsW unwinds branched DNA substrates, including X and Y structures, but shows little activity in unwinding linear duplex substrates with blunt or single-strand ends. Using a novel Holliday junction-containing substrate, we also demonstrate that UvsW promotes the branch migration of Holliday junctions efficiently through more than 1000 bp of DNA. The ATP hydrolysis-deficient mutant protein, UvsW-K141R, is unable to promote Holliday junction branch migration. However, both UvsW and UvsW-K141R are capable of stabilizing Holliday junctions against spontaneous branch migration when ATP is not present. Using two-dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis we also show that UvsW acts on T4-generated replication intermediates, including Holliday junction-containing X-shaped intermediates and replication fork-shaped intermediates. Taken together, these results strongly support a role for UvsW in the branch migration of Holliday junctions that form during T4 recombination, replication, and repair.
Webb, MR; Plank, JL; Long, DT; Hsieh, T-S; Kreuzer, KN
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