Thijn van der Heijden

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Over the past few years, it has become increasingly apparent that double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) plays a far greater role in the life cycle of a cell than previously expected. Numerous proteins, including helicases, polymerases, and nucleases interact specifically with the double helix of dsRNA. To understand the detailed nature of these dsRNA-protein(More)
Protein structural features are usually determined by defining regularities in a large population of homogeneous molecules. However, irregular features such as structural variation and flexibility are likely to be missed, despite their vital role for their biological function. In this paper, we report the observation of striking irregularities in the(More)
The human DNA repair protein RAD51 is the crucial component of helical nucleoprotein filaments that drive homologous recombination. The molecular mechanistic details of how this structure facilitates the requisite DNA strand rearrangements are not known but must involve dynamic interactions between RAD51 and DNA. Here, we report the real-time kinetics of(More)
The mechanics of DNA bending on intermediate length scales (5-100 nm) plays a key role in many cellular processes, and is also important in the fabrication of artificial DNA structures, but previous experimental studies of DNA mechanics have focused on longer length scales than these. We use high-resolution atomic force microscopy on individual DNA(More)
The assembly of RecA onto a torsionally constrained double-stranded DNA molecule was followed in real time using magnetic tweezers. Formation of a RecA-DNA filament on the DNA tether was stalled owing to different physical processes depending on the applied stretching force. For forces up to 3.6 pN, the reaction stalled owing to the formation of positive(More)
Homologous recombination, the exchange of strands between different DNA molecules, is essential for proper maintenance and accurate duplication of the genome. Using magnetic tweezers, we monitor RecA-driven homologous recombination of individual DNA molecules in real time. We resolve several key aspects of DNA structure during and after strand exchange.(More)
RecA, the key protein in homologous recombination, performs its actions as a helical filament on single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). ATP hydrolysis makes the RecA-ssDNA filament dynamic and is essential for successful recombination. RecA has been studied extensively by single-molecule techniques on double-stranded DNA (dsDNA). Here we directly probe the structure(More)
The DNA strand-exchange reactions defining homologous recombination involve transient, nonuniform allosteric interactions between recombinase proteins and their DNA substrates. To study these mechanistic aspects of homologous recombination, we produced functional fluorescent human RAD51 recombinase and visualized recombinase interactions with single DNA(More)
We use Monte Carlo simulations to analyze the simultaneous interactions of multiple proteins to a long DNA molecule. We study the time dependence of protein organization on DNA for different regimes that comprise (non)cooperative sequence-independent protein assembly, dissociation, and linear motion. A range of different behaviors is observed for the(More)
Recombinase proteins assembled into helical filaments on DNA are believed to be the catalytic core of homologous recombination. The assembly, disassembly and dynamic rearrangements of this structure must drive the DNA strand exchange reactions of homologous recombination. The sensitivity of eukaryotic recombinase activity to reaction conditions in vitro(More)