Publication Details (including relevant citation information):
Guo, H.B. et al. J. Mol. Biol. 2010, 398, 555-568.
The bacterial metalloregulator MerR is the index case of an eponymous family of regulatory proteins, which controls the transcription of a set of genes (the mer operon) conferring mercury resistance in many bacteria. Homodimeric MerR represses transcription in the absence of mercury and activates transcription upon Hg(II) binding. Here, the average structures of the apo and Hg(II)-bound forms of MerR in aqueous solution are examined using small-angle X-ray scattering, indicating an extended conformation of the metal-bound protein and revealing the existence of a novel compact conformation in the absence of Hg(II). Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are performed to characterize the conformational dynamics of the Hg (II)-bound form. In both small-angle X-ray scattering and MD, the average torsional angle between DNA-binding domains is similar to 65 degrees. Furthermore, in MD, interdomain motions on a timescale of similar to 10 ns involving large-amplitude (similar to 20 angstrom) domain opening-and-closing, coupled to similar to 40 degrees variations of interdomain torsional angle, are revealed. This correlated domain motion may propagate allosteric changes from the metal-binding site to the DNA-binding site while maintaining DNA contacts required to initiate DNA underwinding. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.