All organisms including animal viruses use specific proteins to bind single-stranded DNA rapidly in a non-sequence-specific, flexible, and cooperative manner during the DNA replication process. The crystal structure of a 60-residue C-terminal deletion construct of ICP8, the major single-stranded DNA-binding protein from herpes simplex virus-1, was determined at 3.0 A resolution. The structure reveals a novel fold, consisting of a large N-terminal domain (residues 9-1038) and a small C-terminal domain (residues 1049-1129). On the basis of the structure and the nearest neighbor interactions in the crystal, we have presented a model describing the site of single-stranded DNA binding and explaining the basis for cooperative binding. This model agrees with the beaded morphology observed in electron micrographs.
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