Structures of protein-nucleic acid complexes in solution by electro-optical analysis

Part of the Topics in Molecular and Structural Biology book series (TMSB)


Although methods for the analysis of biomolecular structures have been developed up to a remarkably high degree of sophistication, and have also been applied with great success, it is still a considerable problem to obtain detailed information on the structure of biological macromolecules in solution. The most powerful method for structure analysis is, of course, X-ray diffraction. However, this method is restricted to the investigation of crystals and structures found in the crystalline state need not be equivalent to those in solution. In principle, a detailed analysis of structures in solution is possible by NMR measurements, but in practice this method is still limited to the analysis of relatively small molecules. Thus, other methods have to be applied, if information on the structure of large macromolecules in solution is required. In this chapter, we give a short description of electro-optical methods, which prove to be particularly useful for the analysis of protein-nucleic acid complexes. We start from a short account of experimental procedures and of theoretical foundations for a quantitative analysis. We then discuss applications, which are of general interest in the domain of protein-nucleic acid interactions. Finally, a short summary is given of results obtained by electro-optical procedures and on the potential of this method for future investigations of protein-nucleic acid complexes.


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