DNA-Binding Properties of a Novel Crenarchaeal Chromatin-Organizing Protein in Sulfolobus acidocaldarius

Liesbeth Lemmens, Kun Wang, Ebert Ruykens, Van Tinh Nguyen, Ann Christin Lindås, Ronnie Willaert, Mohea Couturier, Eveline Peeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In archaeal microorganisms, the compaction and organization of the chromosome into a dynamic but condensed structure is mediated by diverse chromatin-organizing proteins in a lineage-specific manner. While many archaea employ eukaryotic-type histones for nucleoid organization, this is not the case for the crenarchaeal model species Sulfolobus acidocaldarius and related species in Sulfolobales, in which the organization appears to be mostly reliant on the action of small basic DNA-binding proteins. There is still a lack of a full understanding of the involved proteins and their functioning. Here, a combination of in vitro and in vivo methodologies is used to study the DNA-binding properties of Sul12a, an uncharacterized small basic protein conserved in several Sulfolobales species displaying a winged helix–turn–helix structural motif and annotated as a transcription factor. Genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation and target-specific electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrate that Sul12a of S. acidocaldarius interacts with DNA in a non-sequence specific manner, while atomic force microscopy imaging of Sul12a–DNA complexes indicate that the protein induces structural effects on the DNA template. Based on these results, and a contrario to its initial annotation, it can be concluded that Sul12a is a novel chromatin-organizing protein.

Original languageEnglish
Article number524
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • archaea
  • atomic force microscopy
  • chromatin structure
  • DNA binding
  • nucleoid-associated protein
  • Sulfolobus


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