The acid-and thermostable Sac7d is a small, non-specific DNA-binding protein of the hyperthermophile archaea Sulfolobus acidocaldarius. In this study, Sac7d was employed as a structural unit in the design of a thermostable protein containing two putative DNA-binding domains. By linking two Sac7d proteins together and comparing the DNA interaction of dimer to that of monomer, this study may provide structural insights into other dimeric DNA-binding proteins. The engineered protein, Sac7dK66C, was over-expressed and purified. Dimeric Sac7d was obtained by cross-linking two mutant Sac7d molecules through the C-terminal disulfide bond. Thermal stability and DNA-binding ability of dimeric Sac7d were assessed and compared to those of wild type Sac7d by gel retardation assay, circular dichroism spectroscopy, and crystallization experiments. Dimeric Sac7d was shown to be equally thermostable as wild type, and its ability to stabilize DNA duplex is the same as wild type. However, the interaction of dimeric Sac7d with DNA diverged from that of wild type, suggesting different DNA-binding modes for dimeric Sac7d. In addition, a large difference in extinction coefficient was observed in all dimer/DNA CD spectra, which was reminiscent of the spectrum of ψ-DNA. Conjugation of various chemical groups to mutant Sac7d is possible through the C-terminal thiol group. This offers a possible approach in the design of a thermostable biomolecule with novel functions.
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