ParD is a small, acidic protein from the partitioning system of the plasmid RK2/RP4. The ParD protein exhibits specific DNA binding activity and, as the antidote component of a toxin-antidote plasmid addiction system, ParD forms a tight complex in solution with its toxin antagonist, the ParE protein. Unopposed ParE acts as a toxin that causes growth retardation and killing of plasmid cured cells. ParD negatively autoregulates its expression by binding to an operator sequence in the parDE promoter region. This DNA binding activity is crucial for the regulation of the relative abundance of toxin and antidote which ultimately determines life or death for the bacterial host and its daughter cells.
In light scattering studies and gel filtration chromatography we observed the existence of a stable dimer of ParD in solution. The stoichiometry of ParD-DNA complex formation appeared to be 4:1, the molecular mass of the complex was 72.1 kDa. The α-helical content of ParD as determined by CD-spectrometry was 35%. The protein exhibited high thermostability with a TM of 64°C and ΔH of 25 kcal/mol as shown by differential scanning calorimetry. Upon complex formation the TM increased by 10°C. The thermal unfolding of the ParD protein was highly reversible as observed in repeated DSC scans of the same sample. The recovery of the native fold was proven by CDspectroscopy.
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