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de Lange, Orlando; Wolf, Christina; Dietze, Joern; Elsaesser, Janett; Morbitzer, Robert; Lahaye, Thomas (2014): Programmable DNA-binding proteins from Burkholderia provide a fresh perspective on the TALE-like repeat domain. In: Nucleic Acids Research, Vol. 42, No. 11: pp. 7436-7449
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Abstract

The tandem repeats of transcription activator like effectors (TALEs) mediate sequence-specific DNA binding using a simple code. Naturally, TALEs are injected by Xanthomonas bacteria into plant cells to manipulate the host transcriptome. In the laboratory TALE DNA binding domains are reprogrammed and used to target a fused functional domain to a genomic locus of choice. Research into the natural diversity of TALE-like proteins may provide resources for the further improvement of current TALE technology. Here we describe TALE-like proteins from the endosymbiotic bacterium Burkholderia rhizoxinica, termed Bat proteins. Bat repeat domains mediate sequence-specific DNA binding with the same code as TALEs, despite less than 40% sequence identity. We show that Bat proteins can be adapted for use as transcription factors and nucleases and that sequence preferences can be reprogrammed. Unlike TALEs, the core repeats of each Bat protein are highly polymorphic. This feature allowed us to explore alternative strategies for the design of custom Bat repeat arrays, providing novel insights into the functional relevance of non-RVD residues. The Bat proteins offer fertile grounds for research into the creation of improved programmable DNA-binding proteins and comparative insights into TALE-like evolution.