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The Escherichia coli NikR transcription factor is a Ni(II)-dependent repressor that regulates the production of a nickel ion transporter. The X-ray crystal structure of the Ni(II)-NikR-DNA bound complex revealed a K(+)-binding site positioned at the interface of the metal- and DNA-binding domains, but the significance of the potassium was unclear. Mutation of one of the K(+) ligands impairs the affinity and specificity of DNA binding in the presence of either stoichiometric or excess Ni(II). Removal of K(+) abrogates Ni(II)-responsive DNA binding completely while the addition of K(+) restores this activity. Furthermore, the observed K(+) dependence can be relieved by replacing the K(+) ligand Asp34 with an arginine. These mutagenesis and cation exchange experiments reveal that K(+) is a critical structural component for the activation of Ni(II)-responsive DNA binding by NikR.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Chem Soc

Publication Date





1506 - 1507


Binding Sites, Crystallography, X-Ray, DNA, Escherichia coli, Escherichia coli Proteins, Models, Molecular, Mutation, Nickel, Potassium, Protein Binding, Repressor Proteins