DNA mimic proteins are unique factors that control the DNA-binding activity of target proteins by directly occupying their DNA-binding sites. To date, only a few DNA mimic proteins have been reported and their functions analyzed. Here, we present evidence that the Neisseria conserved hypothetical protein DMP12 should be added to this list. Our gel filtration and analytical ultracentrifugation results showed that the DMP12 monomer interacts with the dimeric form of the bacterial histone-like protein HU. Subsequent structural analysis of DMP12 showed that the shape and electrostatic surface of the DMP12 monomer are similar to those of the straight portion of the bent HU-bound DNA and complementary to those of HU protein dimer. DMP12 also protects HU protein from limited digestion by trypsin and enhances the growth rate Escherichia coli. Functionally, HU proteins participate in bacterial nucleoid formation, as well as recombination, gene regulation and DNA replication. The interaction between DMP12 and HU protein might, therefore, play important roles in these DNA-related mechanisms.
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