Single-Stranded DNA Binding Proteins

Stephen C. Kowalczykowski, David G. Bear, Peter H. Von Hippel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


This chapter focuses on the proteins that bind preferentially and nonspecifically to single-stranded DNA and have no other (enzymatic) activity. These proteins are essential to many physiological functions, including replication, recombination, and repair, in a host of organisms ranging from bacteriophage to higher eukaryotes. Thus, single-stranded DNA binding proteins represent systems that have evolved substantially beyond primitive precursors, which may only have been capable of direct and uncontrolled nucleic acid binding. The chapter describes molecular aspects of the involvement of DNA binding proteins in entire systems of DNA replication, recombination, and repair. Nature and measurement of DNA–protein interactions along with general purification strategies for single-stranded DNA binding proteins are also presented. In addition, the chapter discusses the ways in which the single-stranded DNA binding proteins have been exploited as tools in molecular biological research, particularly in the electron microscopy of biological macromolecules and in certain biochemical assays. All DNA binding proteins seem to operate stoichiometrically (as opposed to catalytically), in that they are present at intracellular levels sufficient to effectively saturate the single-stranded DNA intermediates produced during replication, recombination, and repair. Binding cooperativity is essential in permitting complete coverage of single-stranded sequences and also in effectively destabilizing the small duplex hairpins formed by intrastrand base pairing in single-stranded DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-444
Number of pages72
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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