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Research Abstracts Online
January 2010 - March 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences
Medical School
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics

PI: Hideki Aihara

Crystallographic Studies of Site-Specific DNA Recombination and Rearrangement Reactions

These researchers are interested in DNA recombination/rearrangement processes relevant to human health. Specifically, the project investigates the following processes: retroviral integration reactions by which retroviruses such as HIV-1 insert viral DNA into host chromosomes; V(D)J recombinations involved in the maturation of immune systems; and resolution of replicated hairpin telomeres in the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and other pathogenic bacteria. The researchers use x-ray crystallography to determine three-dimensional structures of protein-DNA complexes that represent intermediates of the DNA strand cutting and rejoining reactions. The structural information is crucial for mechanistic understanding of aforementioned processes, which may ultimately aid in the development of newer drugs and tools for gene therapy. In recent work, the researchers have carried out model building and refinement for the hairpin telomere resolvase TelAg from the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens in complex with DNA to obtain publication-quality coordinates with good stereochemistry and low crystallographic R-factors. They also analyzed x-ray diffraction datasets from the fowl poxvirus Holliday-junction resolvase (FPHJR) in complex with DNA Holliday junctions, attempting to phase the structure factors at a modest resolution of ~4.0Å.

Group Members

Kodai Hara, Research Associate
Ke Shi, Research Associate