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J Bacteriol. 1991 August; 173(16): 5207–5219.
PMCID: PMC208215

Characterization and expression of the Escherichia coli Mrr restriction system.

Abstract

The mrr gene of Escherichia coli K-12 is involved in the acceptance of foreign DNA which is modified. The introduction of plasmids carrying the HincII, HpaI, and TaqI R and M genes is severely restricted in E. coli strains that are Mrr+. A 2-kb EcoRI fragment from the plasmid pBg3 (B. Sain and N. E. Murray, Mol. Gen. Genet. 180:35-46, 1980) was cloned. The resulting plasmid restores Mrr function to mrr strains of E. coli. The boundaries of the mrr gene were determined from an analysis of subclones, and plasmids with a functional mrr gene produce a polypeptide of 33.5 kDa. The nucleotide sequence of the entire fragment was determined; in addition to mrr, it includes two open reading frames, one of which encodes part of the hsdR. By using Southern blot analysis, E. coli RR1 and HB101 were found to lack the region containing mrr. The acceptance of various cloned methylases in E. coli containing the cloned mrr gene was tested. Plasmid constructs containing the AccI, CviRI, HincII, Hinfl (HhaII), HpaI, NlaIII, PstI, and TaqI N6-adenine methylases and SssI and HhaI C5-cytosine methylases were found to be restricted. Plasmid constructs containing 16 other adenine methylases and 12 cytosine methylases were not restricted. No simple consensus sequence causing restriction has been determined. The Mrr protein has been overproduced, an antibody has been prepared, and the expression of mrr under various conditions has been examined. The use of mrr strains of E. coli is suggested for the cloning of N6-adenine and C5-cytosine methyl-containing DNA.

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