Pif1 helicase activity is modulated by DNA sequence and structure

Nickens, DG and Bochman, ML

2022 Jan 4;61(1):10-20. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.1c00614. Epub 2021 Dec 21.
Publication Date
View more

The gene encoding the Pif1 helicase was first discovered in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae genetic screen as a mutant that reduces recombination between mitochondrial respiratory mutants and was subsequently rediscovered in a screen for genes affecting the telomere length in the nucleus. It is now known that Pif1 is involved in numerous aspects of DNA metabolism. All known functions of Pif1 rely on binding to DNA substrates followed by ATP hydrolysis, coupling the energy released to translocation along DNA to unwind duplex DNA or alternative DNA secondary structures. The interaction of Pif1 with higher-order DNA structures, like G-quadruplex DNA, as well as the length of single-stranded (ss)DNA necessary for Pif1 loading have been widely studied. Here, to test the effects of ssDNA length, sequence, and structure on Pif1's biochemical activities in vitro, we used a suite of oligonucleotide-based substrates to perform a basic characterization of Pif1 ssDNA binding, ATPase activity, and helicase activity. Using recombinant, untagged S. cerevisiae Pif1, we found that Pif1 preferentially binds to structured G-rich ssDNA, but the preferred binding substrates failed to maximally stimulate ATPase activity. In helicase assays, significant DNA unwinding activity was detected at Pif1 concentrations as low as 250 pM. Helicase assays also demonstrated that Pif1 most efficiently unwinds DNA fork substrates with unstructured ssDNA tails. As the chemical step size of Pif1 has been determined to be 1 ATP per translocation or unwinding event, this implies that the highly structured DNA inhibits conformational changes in Pif1 that couple ATP hydrolysis to DNA translocation and unwinding.



Nickens DG, Bochman ML. Pif1 Activity is Modulated by DNA Sequence and Structure. Biochemistry. 2022 Jan 4;61(1):10-20. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.1c00614. Epub 2021 Dec 21. PMID: 34932305; PMCID: PMC8987742.