Specific binding of the mammalian high mobility group protein AT-hook 2 to the minor groove of AT -rich DNAs: Thermodynamic and specificity studies

Tengjiao Cui, Florida International University


The mammalian high mobility group protein AT-hook 2 (HMGA2) is a small transcriptional factor involved in cell development and oncogenesis. It contains three "AT-hook" DNA binding domains, which specifically recognize the minor groove of AT-rich DNA sequences. It also has an acidic C-terminal motif. Previous studies showed that HMGA2 mediates all its biological effects through interactions with AT-rich DNA sequences in the promoter regions. In this dissertation, I used a variety of biochemical and biophysical methods to examine the physical properties of HMGA2 and to further investigate HMGA2's interactions with AT-rich DNA sequences. The following are three avenues perused in this study: (1) due to the asymmetrical charge distribution of HMGA2, I have developed a rapid procedure to purify HMGA2 in the milligram range. Preparation of large amounts of HMGA2 makes biophysical studies possible; (2) Since HMGA2 binds to different AT-rich sequences in the promoter regions, I used a combination of isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and DNA UV melting experiment to characterize interactions of HMGA2 with poly(dA-dT) 2 and poly(dA)poly(dT). My results demonstrated that (i) each HMGA2 molecule binds to 15 AT bp; (ii) HMGA2 binds to both AT DNAs with very high affinity. However, the binding reaction of HMGA2 to poly(dA-dT) 2 is enthalpy-driven and the binding reaction of HMGA2 with poly(dA)poly(dT) is entropy-driven; (iii) the binding reactions are strongly depended on salt concentrations; (3) Previous studies showed that HMGA2 may have sequence specificity. In this study, I used a PCR-based SELEX procedure to examine the DNA binding specificity of HMGA2. Two consensus sequences for HMGA2 have been identified: 5'-ATATTCGCGAWWATT-3' and 5'-ATATTGCGCAWWATT-3', where W represents A or T. These consensus sequences have a unique feature: the first five base pairs are AT-rich, the middle four to five base pairs are GC-rich, and the last five to six base pairs are AT-rich. All three segments are critical for high affinity binding. Replacing either one of the AT-rich sequences to a non-AT-rich sequence causes at least 100-fold decrease in the binding affinity. Intriguingly, if the GC-segment is substituted by an AT-rich segment, the binding affinity of HMGA2 is reduced approximately 5-fold. Identification of the consensus sequences for HMGA2 represents an important step towards finding its binding sites within the genome.

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Recommended Citation

Cui, Tengjiao, "Specific binding of the mammalian high mobility group protein AT-hook 2 to the minor groove of AT -rich DNAs: Thermodynamic and specificity studies" (2007). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3279238.