CC1, a novel crenarchaeal DNA binding protein
The genomes of the related crenarchaea Pyrobaculum aerophilum and Thermoproteus tenax lack any obvious gene encoding a single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB). SSBs are essential for DNA replication, recombination, and repair and are found in all other genomes across the three domains of life. These two archaeal genomes also have only one identifiable gene encoding a chromatin protein (the Alba protein), while most other archaea have at least two different abundant chromatin proteins. We performed a biochemical screen for novel nucleic acid binding proteins present in cell extracts of T. tenax. An assay for proteins capable of binding to a single-stranded DNA oligonucleotide resulted in identification of three proteins. The first protein, Alba, has been shown previously to bind single-stranded DNA as well as duplex DNA. The two other proteins, which we designated M (for crenarchaeal chromatin protein 1), are very closely related to one another, and homologs are restricted to the P. aerophilum and Aeropyrum pernix genomes. M is a 6-kDa, monomeric, basic protein that is expressed at a high level in T. tenax. This protein binds single- and double-stranded DNAs with similar affinities. These properties are consistent with a role for M as a crenarchaeal chromatin protein.
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