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DNA Translocases

We have recently initiated studies of machines that ‘walk’ along DNA. These machines generally use ATP to move along DNA and are involved in DNA replication, repair and recombination, as well as viral maturation. Thus, these assemblies are critical for human health. The molecular mechanisms underlying DNA translocation are still mysterious.

The Kelch Lab has developed a novel model system for investigating motor action using a thermophilic virus: phage P74-26. Our recent work has uncovered a trans-activation mechanism for coordinating ATP hydrolysis within the motor ring and has led to proposed mechanisms of DNA translocation and regulation of motor nuclease activity (see Hilbert, Hayes et al PNAS 2015 & Hilbert et al BioRxiv 2016). 

Here is a very cool movie from the Bustamante Lab (HHMI/UC Berkeley) depicting how a viral DNA translocase packages DNA into the viral protein shell: