Uncovering nick DNA binding by LIG1 at the single-molecule level

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DNA ligases repair the strand breaks are made continually and naturally throughout the genome, if left unrepaired and allowed to persist, they can lead to genome instability in the forms of lethal double-strand (ds) breaks, deletions, and duplications. DNA ligase 1 (LIG1) joins Okazaki fragments during the replication machinery and seals nicks at the end of most DNA repair pathways. Yet, how LIG1 recognizes its target substrate is entirely missing. Here, we uncover the dynamics of nick DNA binding by LIG1 at the single-molecule level. Our findings reveal that LIG1 binds to dsDNA both specifically and non-specifically and exhibits diffusive behavior to form a stable complex at the nick. Furthermore, by comparing with the LIG1 C-terminal protein, we demonstrate that the N-terminal non-catalytic region promotes binding enriched at nick sites and facilitates an efficient nick search process by promoting 1D diffusion along the DNA. Our findings provide a novel single-molecule insight into the nick binding by LIG1, which is critical to repair broken phosphodiester bonds in the DNA backbone to maintain genome integrity.

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