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Zarrabi, Nawid; Schluesche, Peter; Meisterernst, Michael; Börsch, Michael and Lamb, Don C. (2018): Analyzing the Dynamics of Single TBP-DNA-NC2 Complexes Using Hidden Markov Models. In: Biophysical Journal, Vol. 115, No. 12: pp. 2310-2326

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Single-pair Forster resonance energy transfer (spFRET) has become an important tool for investigating conformational dynamics in biological systems. To extract dynamic information from the spFRET traces measured with total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, we extended the hidden Markov model (HMM) approach. In our extended HMM analysis, we incorporated the photon-shot noise from camera-based systems into the HMM. Thus, the variance in Forster resonance energy transfer (FRET) efficiency of the various states, which is typically a fitted parameter, is explicitly included in the analysis estimated from the number of detected photons. It is also possible to include an additional broadening of the FRET state, which would then only reflect the inherent flexibility of the dynamic biological systems. This approach is useful when comparing the dynamics of individual molecules for which the total intensities vary significantly. We used spFRET with the extended HMM analysis to investigate the dynamics of TATA-box-binding protein (TBP) on promoter DNA in the presence of negative cofactor 2 (NC2). We compared the dynamics of two promoters as well as DNAs of different length and labeling location. For the adenovirus major late promoter, four FRET states were observed;three states correspond to different conformations of the DNA in the TBP-DNA-NC2 complex and a four-state model in which the complex has shifted along the DNA. The HMM analysis revealed that the states are connected via a linear, four-well model. For the H2B promoter, more complex dynamics were observed. By clustering the FRET states detected with the HMM analysis, we could compare the general dynamics observed for the two promoter sequences. We observed that the dynamics from a stretched DNA conformation to a bent conformation for the two promoters were similar, whereas the bent conformation of the TBP-DNA-NC2 complex for the H2B promoter is approximately three times more stable than for the adenovirus major late promoter.

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