Reduced stability and increased dynamics in the human Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA) relative to the yeast homolog

Alfredo de Biasio, Ricardo Sánchez, Jesús Prieto, Maider Villate, Ramón Campos-Olivas, Francisco J. Blanco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA) is an essential factor for DNA replication and repair. PCNA forms a toroidal, ring shaped structure of 90 kDa by the symmetric association of three identical monomers. The ring encircles the DNA and acts as a platform where polymerases and other proteins dock to carry out different DNA metabolic processes. The amino acid sequence of human PCNA is 35% identical to the yeast homolog, and the two proteins have the same 3D crystal structure. In this report, we give evidence that the budding yeast (sc) and human (h) PCNAs have highly similar structures in solution but differ substantially in their stability and dynamics. hPCNA is less resistant to chemical and thermal denaturation and displays lower cooperativity of unfolding as compared to scPCNA. Solvent exchange rates measurements show that the slowest exchanging backbone amides are at the β-sheet, in the structure core, and not at the helices, which line the central channel. However, all the backbone amides of hPCNA exchange fast, becoming undetectable within hours, while the signals from the core amides of scPCNA persist for longer times. The high dynamics of the α-helices, which face the DNA in the PCNA-loaded form, is likely to have functional implications for the sliding of the PCNA ring on the DNA since a large hole with a flexible wall facilitates the establishment of protein-DNA interactions that are transient and easily broken. The increased dynamics of hPCNA relative to scPCNA may allow it to acquire multiple induced conformations upon binding to its substrates enlarging its binding diversity. © 2011 De Biasio et al.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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