Wrapping of single-stranded DNA by Replication Protein A and modulation through phosphorylation

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Single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) intermediates, which emerge during DNA metabolic processes are shielded by Replication Protein A (RPA). RPA binds to ssDNA and acts as a gatekeeper, directing the ssDNA towards downstream DNA metabolic pathways with exceptional specificity. Understanding the mechanistic basis for such RPA-dependent specificity requires a comprehensive understanding of the structural conformation of ssDNA when bound to RPA. Previous studies suggested a stretching of ssDNA by RPA. However, structural investigations uncovered a partial wrapping of ssDNA around RPA. Therefore, to reconcile the models, in this study, we measured the end-to-end distances of free ssDNA and RPA-ssDNA complexes using single-molecule FRET and Double Electron-Electron Resonance (DEER) spectroscopy and found only a small systematic increase in the end-to-end distance of ssDNA upon RPA binding. This change does not align with a linear stretching model but rather supports partial wrapping of ssDNA around the contour of DNA binding domains of RPA. Furthermore, we reveal how phosphorylation at the key Ser-384 site in the RPA70 subunit provides access to the wrapped ssDNA by remodeling the DNA-binding domains. These findings establish a precise structural model for RPA-bound ssDNA, providing valuable insights into how RPA facilitates the remodeling of ssDNA for subsequent downstream processes.

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