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Fluorescent human RPA to track assembly dynamics on DNA.

DNA metabolic processes including replication, repair, recombination, and telomere maintenance occur on single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). In each of these complex processes, dozens of proteins function together on the ssDNA template. However, when double-stranded DNA is unwound, the transiently open ssDNA is protected and coated by the high affinity heterotrimeric ssDNA binding Replication Protein A (RPA). Almost all downstream DNA processes must first remodel/remove RPA or function alongside to access the ssDNA occluded under RPA. Formation of RPA-ssDNA complexes trigger the DNA damage checkpoint response and is a key step in activating most DNA repair and recombination pathways. Thus, in addition to protecting the exposed ssDNA, RPA functions as a gatekeeper to define functional specificity in DNA maintenance and genomic integrity. RPA achieves functional dexterity through a multi-domain architecture utilizing several DNA binding and protein-interaction domains connected by flexible linkers. This flexible and modular architecture enables RPA to adopt a myriad of configurations tailored for specific DNA metabolic roles. To experimentally capture the dynamics of the domains of RPA upon binding to ssDNA and interacting proteins we here describe the generation of active site-specific fluorescent versions of human RPA (RPA) using 4-azido-L-phenylalanine (4AZP) incorporation and click chemistry. This approach can also be applied to site-specific modifications of other multi-domain proteins. Fluorescence-enhancement through non-canonical amino acids (FEncAA) and Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) assays for measuring dynamics of RPA on DNA are also described. The fluorescent human RPA described here will enable high-resolution structure-function analysis of RPA-ssDNA interactions.

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