Single molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy were used to investigate DNA looping by NgoMIV restriction endonuclease. Using a linear double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) molecule labeled with a fluorescence donor molecule, Cy3, and fluorescence acceptor molecule, Cy5, and by varying the concentration of NgoMIV endonuclease from 0 to 3 × 10-6 M, it was possible to detect and determine diffusion properties of looped DNA/protein complexes. FRET efficiency distributions revealed a subpopulation of complexes with an energy transfer efficiency of 30%, which appeared upon addition of enzyme in the picomolar to nanomolar concentration range (using 10-11 M dsDNA). The concentration dependence, fluorescence burst size analysis, and fluorescence correlation analysis were all consistent with this subpopulation arising from a sequence specific interaction between an individual enzyme and a DNA molecule. A 30% FRET efficiency corresponds to a distance of ∼65 Å, which correlates well with the distance between the ends of the dsDNA molecule when bound to NgoMIV according to the crystal structure of this complex. Formation of the looped complexes was also evident in measurements of the diffusion times of freely diffusing DNA molecules with and without NgoMIV. At very high protein concentrations compared to the DNA concentration, FRET and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy results revealed the formation of larger DNA/protein complexes.
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