We compare the DNA-interactive properties of bacteriophage T4 gene 32 protein (gp32)
with those of crotamine, a component of the venom of the South American rattlesnake. Gene 32 protein
is a classical single-stranded DNA binding protein that has served as a model for this class of proteins.
We discuss its biological functions, structure, binding specificities, and how it controls its own
expression. In addition, we delineate the roles of the structural domains of gp32 and how they regulate
the protein’s various activities. Crotamine, a component of the venom of the South American rattlesnake,
is probably not a DNA binding protein in nature, but clearly shows significant DNA binding in
vitro. Crotamine has been shown to selectively disrupt rapidly dividing cells and this specificity has been demonstrated for
crotamine-facilitated delivery of plasmid DNA Thus, crotamine, or a variant of the protein, could have important clinical
and/or diagnostic roles. Understanding its DNA binding properties may therefore lead to more effective drug delivery vehicles.