The structure of the gene 5 DNA unwinding protein from bacteriophage fd has been determined by X-ray diffraction analysis of single crystals to 2.3 Å resolution using six isomorphous heavy-atom derivatives. The essentially globular monomer appears to consist of three secondary structural elements, a radically twisted three-stranded antiparallel β sheet and two distinct anti-parallel β loops, which are joined by short segments of extended polypeptide chain. The molecule contains no α-helix. A long groove, or arch, 30 Å in length is formed by the underside of the twisted β sheet and one of the two β ribbons. We believe this groove to be the DNA binding region, and this is supported by the assignment of residues on its surface implicated in binding by solution studies. These residues include several aromatic amino acids which may intercalate or stack upon the bases of the DNA. Two monomers are maintained as a dimer by the very close interaction of symmetry related β ribbons about the molecular dyad. About six residues at the amino and carboxyl terminus are in extended conformation and both seem to exhibit some degree of disorder. The amimo-terminal methionine is the locus for binding the platinum heavy-atom derivatives and tyrosine 26 for attachment of the major iodine substituent.
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