Influence of mobile DNA-protein-DNA bridges on DNA configurations: Coarse-grained Monte-Carlo simulations

R. de Vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


A large literature exists on modeling the influence of sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins on the shape of the DNA double helix in terms of one or a few fixed constraints. This approach is inadequate for the many proteins that bind DNA sequence independently, and that are present in very large quantities rather than as a few copies, such as the nucleoid proteins in bacterial cells. The influence of such proteins on DNA configurations is better modeled in terms of a great number of mobile constraints on the DNA. Types of constraints that mimic the influence of various known non-specifically DNA binding proteins include DNA bending, wrapping, and bridging. Using Monte-Carlo simulations, we here investigate the influence of (non-interacting) mobile DNA-protein-DNA bridges on the configurations of a 1000 bp piece of linear DNA, for both homogeneous DNA and DNA with an intrinsic planar bend. Results are compared to experimental data on the bacterial nucleoid protein H-NS that forms DNA-protein-DNA bridges. In agreement with data on H-NS, we find very strong positioning of DNA-protein-DNA bridges in the vicinity of planar bends. H-NS binds to DNA very cooperatively, but for non-interacting bridges we only find a moderate DNA-induced clustering. Finally, it has been suggested that H-NS is an important contributor to the extreme condensation of bacterial DNA into a nucleoid structure, but we find only a moderate compaction of DNA coils with increasing numbers of non-interacting bridges. Our results illustrate the importance of quantifying the various effects on DNA configurations that have been proposed for proteins that bind DNA sequence independently.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125104
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • h-ns
  • statistical-mechanics
  • wormlike chains
  • organization
  • binding
  • flexibility
  • bacteria


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