UNIT 12.3 Methylation and Uracil Interference Assays for Analysis of Protein-DNA Interactions

  1. Albert S. Baldwin Jr.1,
  2. Marjorie Oettinger (uracil interference)2,
  3. Kevin Struhl (uracil interference)3

Published Online: 1 MAY 2001

DOI: 10.1002/0471142727.mb1203s36

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

Current Protocols in Molecular Biology

How to Cite

Baldwin, A. S., Oettinger, M. and Struhl, K. 2001. Methylation and Uracil Interference Assays for Analysis of Protein-DNA Interactions. Current Protocols in Molecular Biology. 36:12.3:12.3.1–12.3.7.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

  2. 2

    Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

  3. 3

    Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 MAY 2001
  2. Published Print: OCT 1996


Interference assays identify specific residues in the DNA binding site that, when modified, interfere with binding of the protein. The protocols use end-labeled DNA probes that are modified at an average of one site per molecule of probe. These probes are incubated with the protein of interest, and protein-DNA complexes are separated from free probe by the mobility shift assay. A DNA probe that is modified at a position that interferes with binding will not be retarded in this assay; thus, the specific protein-DNA complex is depleted for DNA that contains modifications on bases important for binding. After gel purification, the bound and unbound DNA are specifically cleaved at the modified residues and the resulting products analyzed by electrophoresis on polyacrylamide sequencing gels and autoradiography. In the methylation interference protocol presented here, probes are generated by methylating guanines (at the N-7 position) and adenines (at the N-3 position) with DMS; these methylated bases are cleaved specifically by piperidine. In the uracil interference protocol, probes are generated by PCR amplification in the presence of a mixture of TTP and dUTP, thereby producing products in which thymine residues are replaced by deoxyuracil residues (which contains hydrogen in place of the thymine 5-methyl group). Uracil bases are specifically cleaved by uracil-N-glycosylase to generate apyrimidinic sites that are susceptible to piperidine. These procedures provide complementary information about the nucleotides involved in protein-DNA interactions.