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1.  Correction: Screening for Protein-DNA Interactions by Automatable DNA-Protein Interaction ELISA 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/25496321-a034-46b0-90e4-5af462e8f068.
PMCID: PMC3885760
2.  Correction: Screening for Protein-DNA Interactions by Automatable DNA-Protein Interaction ELISA 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/57c9046c-1549-445c-8733-d0b2cccc5bb9.
PMCID: PMC3883728
3.  Screening for Protein-DNA Interactions by Automatable DNA-Protein Interaction ELISA 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75177.
DNA-binding proteins (DBPs), such as transcription factors, constitute about 10% of the protein-coding genes in eukaryotic genomes and play pivotal roles in the regulation of chromatin structure and gene expression by binding to short stretches of DNA. Despite their number and importance, only for a minor portion of DBPs the binding sequence had been disclosed. Methods that allow the de novo identification of DNA-binding motifs of known DBPs, such as protein binding microarray technology or SELEX, are not yet suited for high-throughput and automation. To close this gap, we report an automatable DNA-protein-interaction (DPI)-ELISA screen of an optimized double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) probe library that allows the high-throughput identification of hexanucleotide DNA-binding motifs. In contrast to other methods, this DPI-ELISA screen can be performed manually or with standard laboratory automation. Furthermore, output evaluation does not require extensive computational analysis to derive a binding consensus. We could show that the DPI-ELISA screen disclosed the full spectrum of binding preferences for a given DBP. As an example, AtWRKY11 was used to demonstrate that the automated DPI-ELISA screen revealed the entire range of in vitro binding preferences. In addition, protein extracts of AtbZIP63 and the DNA-binding domain of AtWRKY33 were analyzed, which led to a refinement of their known DNA-binding consensi. Finally, we performed a DPI-ELISA screen to disclose the DNA-binding consensus of a yet uncharacterized putative DBP, AtTIFY1. A palindromic TGATCA-consensus was uncovered and we could show that the GATC-core is compulsory for AtTIFY1 binding. This specific interaction between AtTIFY1 and its DNA-binding motif was confirmed by in vivo plant one-hybrid assays in protoplasts. Thus, the value and applicability of the DPI-ELISA screen for de novo binding site identification of DBPs, also under automatized conditions, is a promising approach for a deeper understanding of gene regulation in any organism of choice.
PMCID: PMC3795721  PMID: 24146751
4.  Elucidating the evolutionary conserved DNA-binding specificities of WRKY transcription factors by molecular dynamics and in vitro binding assays 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(21):9764-9778.
WRKY transcription factors constitute a large protein family in plants that is involved in the regulation of developmental processes and responses to biotic or abiotic stimuli. The question arises how stimulus-specific responses are mediated given that the highly conserved WRKY DNA-binding domain (DBD) exclusively recognizes the ‘TTGACY’ W-box consensus. We speculated that the W-box consensus might be more degenerate and yet undetected differences in the W-box consensus of WRKYs of different evolutionary descent exist. The phylogenetic analysis of WRKY DBDs suggests that they evolved from an ancestral group IIc-like WRKY early in the eukaryote lineage. A direct descent of group IIc WRKYs supports a monophyletic origin of all other group II and III WRKYs from group I by loss of an N-terminal DBD. Group I WRKYs are of paraphyletic descent and evolved multiple times independently. By homology modeling, molecular dynamics simulations and in vitro DNA–protein interaction-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with AtWRKY50 (IIc), AtWRKY33 (I) and AtWRKY11 (IId) DBDs, we revealed differences in DNA-binding specificities. Our data imply that other components are essentially required besides the W-box-specific binding to DNA to facilitate a stimulus-specific WRKY function.
PMCID: PMC3834811  PMID: 23975197
5.  The FANTASTIC FOUR proteins influence shoot meristem size in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:285.
Throughout their lives plants produce new organs from groups of pluripotent cells called meristems, located at the tips of the shoot and the root. The size of the shoot meristem is tightly controlled by a feedback loop, which involves the homeodomain transcription factor WUSCHEL (WUS) and the CLAVATA (CLV) proteins. This regulatory circuit is further fine-tuned by morphogenic signals such as hormones and sugars.
Here we show that a family of four plant-specific proteins, encoded by the FANTASTIC FOUR (FAF) genes, has the potential to regulate shoot meristem size in Arabidopsis thaliana. FAF2 and FAF4 are expressed in the centre of the shoot meristem, overlapping with the site of WUS expression. Consistent with a regulatory interaction between the FAF gene family and WUS, our experiments indicate that the FAFs can repress WUS, which ultimately leads to an arrest of meristem activity in FAF overexpressing lines. The finding that meristematic expression of FAF2 and FAF4 is under negative control by CLV3 further supports the hypothesis that the FAFs are modulators of the genetic circuit that regulates the meristem.
This study reports the initial characterization of the Arabidopsis thaliana FAF gene family. Our data indicate that the FAF genes form a plant specific gene family, the members of which have the potential to regulate the size of the shoot meristem by modulating the CLV3-WUS feedback loop.
PMCID: PMC3023791  PMID: 21176196
6.  DPI-ELISA: a fast and versatile method to specify the binding of plant transcription factors to DNA in vitro 
Plant Methods  2010;6:25.
About 10% of all genes in eukaryote genomes are predicted to encode transcription factors. The specific binding of transcription factors to short DNA-motifs influences the expression of neighbouring genes. However, little is known about the DNA-protein interaction itself. To date there are only a few suitable methods to characterise DNA-protein-interactions, among which the EMSA is the method most frequently used in laboratories. Besides EMSA, several protocols describe the effective use of an ELISA-based transcription factor binding assay e.g. for the analysis of human NFκB binding to specific DNA sequences.
We provide a unified protocol for this type of ELISA analysis, termed DNA-Protein-Interaction (DPI)-ELISA. Qualitative analyses with His-epitope tagged plant transcription factors expressed in E. coli revealed that EMSA and DPI-ELISA result in comparable and reproducible data. The binding of AtbZIP63 to the C-box and AtWRKY11 to the W2-box could be reproduced and validated by both methods. We next examined the physical binding of the C-terminal DNA-binding domains of AtWRKY33, AtWRKY50 and AtWRKY75 to the W2-box. Although the DNA-binding domain is highly conserved among the WRKY proteins tested, the use of the DPI-ELISA discloses differences in W2-box binding properties between these proteins. In addition to these well-studied transcription factor families, we applied our protocol to AtBPC2, a member of the so far uncharacterised plant specific Basic Pentacysteine transcription factor family. We could demonstrate binding to GA/TC-dinucleotide repeat motifs by our DPI-ELISA protocol. Different buffers and reaction conditions were examined.
We successfully applied our DPI-ELISA protocol to investigate the DNA-binding specificities of three different classes of transcription factors from Arabidopsis thaliana. However, the analysis of the binding affinity of any DNA-binding protein to any given DNA sequence can be performed via this method. The DPI-ELISA is cost efficient, less time-consuming than other methods and provides a qualitative and quantitative readout. The presented DPI-ELISA protocol is accompanied by advice on trouble-shooting, which will enable scientists to rapidly establish this versatile and easy to use method in their laboratories.
PMCID: PMC3003642  PMID: 21108821

Results 1-6 (6)