The development of a model system and high throughput assay for the study of interactions between zinc finger proteins and DNA
It has been recognised for some time that a full code of amino acid-based recognition of DNA sequences would be useful. Several approaches, which utilise small DNA binding motifs called zinc fingers, are presently employed. None of the current approaches successfully combine a combinatorial approach to the elucidation of a code with a single stage high throughput screening assay. The work outlined here describes the development of a model system for the study of DNA protein interactions and the development of a high throughput assay for detection of such interactions. A zinc finger protein was designed which will bind with high affinity and specificity to a known DNA sequence. For future work it is possible to mutate the region of the zinc finger responsible for the specificity of binding, in order to observe the effect on the DNA / protein interactions. The zinc finger protein was initially synthesised as a His tagged product. It was not possible however to develop a high throughput assay using the His tagged zinc finger protein. The gene encoding the zinc finger protein was altered and the protein synthesised as a Glutathione S-Transferase (GST) fusion product. A successful assay was developed using the GST protein and Scintillation Proximity Assay technology (Amersham Pharmacia Biotech). The scintillation proximity assay is a dynamic assay that allows the DNA protein interactions to be studied in "real time". This assay not only provides a high throughput method of screening zinc finger proteins for potential ligands but also allows the effect of addition of reagents or competitor ligands to be monitored.