In spermatogenesis, chromatin histones are replaced by arginine-rich protamines to densely compact DNA in sperm heads. Tight packaging is considered necessary to protect the DNA from damage. To better understand the nature of the forces condensing protamine-DNA assemblies and their dependence on amino acid content, the effect of neutral and negatively charged amino acids on DNA-DNA intermolecular forces was studied using model peptides containing six arginines. We have previously observed that the neutral amino acids in salmon protamine decrease the net attraction between protamine-DNA helices compared with the equivalent homo-arginine peptide. Using osmotic stress coupled with x-ray scattering, we have investigated the component attractive and repulsive forces that determine the net attraction and equilibrium interhelical distance as a function of the chemistry, position, and number of the amino acid inserted. Neutral amino acids inserted into hexaarginine increase the short range repulsion while only slightly affecting longer range attraction. The amino acid content alone of salmon protamine is enough to rationalize the forces that package DNA in sperm heads. Inserting a negatively charged amino acid into hexa-arginine dramatically weakens the net attraction. Both of these observations have biological implications for protamine-DNA packaging in sperm heads.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Biological Chemistry|
|State||Published - Dec 9 2011|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology