► Successful fusion of GFP to M.EcoKI DNA methyltransferase. ► GFP located at C-terminal of sequence specificity subunit does not later enzyme activity. ► FRET confirms structural model of M.EcoKI bound to DNA.
We describe the fusion of enhanced green fluorescent protein to the C-terminus of the HsdS DNA sequence-specificity subunit of the Type I DNA modification methyltransferase M.EcoKI. The fusion expresses well in vivo and assembles with the two HsdM modification subunits. The fusion protein functions as a sequence-specific DNA methyltransferase protecting DNA against digestion by the EcoKI restriction endonuclease. The purified enzyme shows Förster resonance energy transfer to fluorescently-labelled DNA duplexes containing the target sequence and to fluorescently-labelled ocr protein, a DNA mimic that binds to the M.EcoKI enzyme. Distances determined from the energy transfer experiments corroborate the structural model of M.EcoKI.
DNA restriction/modification; DNA methyltransferase; Forster resonance energy transfer; Time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy; Time-resolved fluorescence; Green fluorescent protein
The ocr protein, the product of gene 0.3 of bacteriophage T7, is a structural mimic of the phosphate backbone of B-form DNA. In total it mimics 22 phosphate groups over ∼24 bp of DNA. This mimicry allows it to block DNA binding by type I DNA restriction enzymes and to inhibit these enzymes. We have determined that multiple ocr dimers can bind stoichiometrically to the archetypal type I enzyme, EcoKI. One dimer binds to the core methyltransferase and two to the complete bifunctional restriction and modification enzyme. Ocr can also bind to the component subunits of EcoKI. Binding affinity to the methyltransferase core is extremely strong with a large favourable enthalpy change and an unfavourable entropy change. This strong interaction prevents the dissociation of the methyltransferase which occurs upon dilution of the enzyme. This stabilisation arises because the interaction appears to involve virtually the entire surface area of ocr and leads to the enzyme completely wrapping around ocr.
The EcoKI DNA methyltransferase is a trimeric protein comprised of two modification subunits (M) and one sequence specificity subunit (S). This enzyme forms the core of the EcoKI restriction/modification (RM) enzyme. The 3′ end of the gene encoding the M subunit overlaps by 1 nt the start of the gene for the S subunit. Translation from the two different open reading frames is translationally coupled. Mutagenesis to remove the frameshift and fuse the two subunits together produces a functional RM enzyme in vivo with the same properties as the natural EcoKI system. The fusion protein can be purified and forms an active restriction enzyme upon addition of restriction subunits and of additional M subunit. The Type I RM systems are grouped into families, IA to IE, defined by complementation, hybridization and sequence similarity. The fusion protein forms an evolutionary intermediate form lying between the Type IA family of RM enzymes and the Type IB family of RM enzymes which have the frameshift located at a different part of the gene sequence.
Type I DNA restriction/modification systems are oligomeric enzymes capable of switching between a methyltransferase function on hemimethylated host DNA and an endonuclease function on unmethylated foreign DNA. They have long been believed to not turnover as endonucleases with the enzyme becoming inactive after cleavage. Cleavage is preceded and followed by extensive ATP hydrolysis and DNA translocation. A role for dissociation of subunits to allow their reuse has been proposed for the EcoR124I enzyme. The EcoKI enzyme is a stable assembly in the absence of DNA, so recycling was thought impossible. Here, we demonstrate that EcoKI becomes unstable on long unmethylated DNA; reuse of the methyltransferase subunits is possible so that restriction proceeds until the restriction subunits have been depleted. We observed that RecBCD exonuclease halts restriction and does not assist recycling. We examined the DNA structure required to initiate ATP hydrolysis by EcoKI and find that a 21-bp duplex with single-stranded extensions of 12 bases on either side of the target sequence is sufficient to support hydrolysis. Lastly, we discuss whether turnover is an evolutionary requirement for restriction, show that the ATP hydrolysis is not deleterious to the host cell and discuss how foreign DNA occasionally becomes fully methylated by these systems.
To understand the role of restriction in regulating gene flow in bacterial populations, we would like to understand the regulation of restriction enzyme activity. Several antirestriction (restriction alleviation) systems are known that reduce the activity of type I restriction enzymes like EcoKI in vivo. Most of these do not act on type II or type III enzymes, but little information is available for the unclassified modification-dependent systems, of which there are three in E. coli K-12. Of particular interest are two physiological controls on type I enzymes: EcoKI restriction is reduced 2 to 3 orders of magnitude following DNA damage, and a similar effect is seen constitutively in Dam- cells. We used the behavior of EcoKI as a control for testing the response to UV treatment of the three endogenous modification-dependent restriction systems of K-12, McrA, McrBC, and Mrr. Two of these were also tested for response to Dam status. We find that all four resident restriction systems show reduced activity following UV treatment, but not in a unified fashion; each response was genetically and physiologically distinct. Possible mechanisms are discussed.
Type I DNA methyltransferases contain one specificity subunit (HsdS) and two modification subunits (HsdM). The electron microscopy model of M.EcoKI-M2S1 methyltransferase shows a reasonable closed state of this clamp-like enzyme, but the structure of the open state is still unclear. The 1.95 Å crystal structure of the specificity subunit from Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensis (TTE-HsdS) shows an unreported open form inter-domain orientation of this subunit. Based on the crystal structure of TTE-HsdS and the closed state model of M.EcoKI-M2S1, we constructed a potential open state model of type I methyltransferase. Mutational studies indicated that two α-helices (aa30-59 and aa466-495) of the TTE-HsdM subunit are important inter-subunit interaction sites in the TTE-M2S1 complex. DNA binding assays also highlighted the importance of the C-terminal region of TTE-HsdM for DNA binding by the TTE-M2S1 complex. On the basis of structural analysis, biochemical experiments and previous studies, we propose a dynamic opening and closing mechanism for type I methyltransferase.
The mercury-resistance transposon Tn5053 inhibits restriction activity of the type I restriction-modification endonuclease EcoKI in Escherichia coli K12 cells. This is the first report of antirestriction activity of a non-conjugative transposon. The gene (ardD) coding for the antirestriction protein has been cloned. The ardD gene is located within the tniA gene, coding for transposase, on the complementary strand. The direction of transcription is opposite to transcription of the tniA gene.
restriction-modification system type I; antirestriction protein; mercury-resistance transposon; overlapping genes
Antirestriction proteins Ard encoded by some self-transmissible plasmids specifically inhibit restriction by members of all three families of type I restriction-modification (R-M) systems in E.coli. Recently, we have identified the amino acid region, 'antirestriction' domain, that is conserved within different plasmid and phage T7-encoded antirestriction proteins and may be involved in interaction with the type I R-M systems. In this paper we demonstrate that this amino acid sequence shares considerable similarity with a well-known conserved sequence (the Argos repeat) found in the DNA sequence specificity (S) polypeptides of type I systems. We suggest that the presence of these similar motifs in restriction and antirestriction proteins may give a structural basis for their interaction and that the antirestriction action of Ard proteins may be a result of the competition between the 'antirestriction' domains of Ard proteins and the similar conserved domains of the S subunits that are believed to play a role in the subunit assembly of type I R-M systems.
The Type I restriction-modification enzymes comprise three protein subunits; HsdS and HsdM that form a methyltransferase (MTase) and HsdR that associates with the MTase and catalyses Adenosine-5′-triphosphate (ATP)-dependent DNA translocation and cleavage. Here, we examine whether the MTase and HsdR components can ‘turnover’ in vitro, i.e. whether they can catalyse translocation and cleavage events on one DNA molecule, dissociate and then re-bind a second DNA molecule. Translocation termination by both EcoKI and EcoR124I leads to HsdR dissociation from linear DNA but not from circular DNA. Following DNA cleavage, the HsdR subunits appear unable to dissociate even though the DNA is linear, suggesting a tight interaction with the cleaved product. The MTases of EcoKI and EcoAI can dissociate from DNA following either translocation or cleavage and can initiate reactions on new DNA molecules as long as free HsdR molecules are available. In contrast, the MTase of EcoR124I does not turnover and additional cleavage of circular DNA is not observed by inclusion of RecBCD, a helicase–nuclease that degrades the linear DNA product resulting from Type I cleavage. Roles for Type I restriction endonuclease subunit dynamics in restriction alleviation in the cell are discussed.
The maintenance methyltransferase M.EcoKI recognizes the bipartite DNA sequence 5′-AACNNNNNNGTGC-3′, where N is any nucleotide. M.EcoKI preferentially methylates a sequence already containing a methylated adenine at or complementary to the underlined bases in the sequence. We find that the introduction of a single-stranded gap in the middle of the non-specific spacer, of up to 4 nt in length, does not reduce the binding affinity of M.EcoKI despite the removal of non-sequence-specific contacts between the protein and the DNA phosphate backbone. Surprisingly, binding affinity is enhanced in a manner predicted by simple polymer models of DNA flexibility. However, the activity of the enzyme declines to zero once the single-stranded region reaches 4 nt in length. This indicates that the recognition of methylation of the DNA is communicated between the two methylation targets not only through the protein structure but also through the DNA structure. Furthermore, methylation recognition requires base flipping in which the bases targeted for methylation are swung out of the DNA helix into the enzyme. By using 2-aminopurine fluorescence as the base flipping probe we find that, although flipping occurs for the intact duplex, no flipping is observed upon introduction of a gap. Our data and polymer model indicate that M.EcoKI bends the non-specific spacer and that the energy stored in a double-stranded bend is utilized to force or flip out the bases. This energy is not stored in gapped duplexes. In this way, M.EcoKI can determine the methylation status of two adenine bases separated by a considerable distance in double-stranded DNA and select the required enzymatic response.
DNA mimic proteins have evolved to control DNA-binding proteins by competing with the target DNA for binding to the protein. The Ocr protein of bacteriophage T7 is the most studied DNA mimic and functions to block the DNA-binding groove of Type I DNA restriction/modification enzymes. This binding prevents the enzyme from cleaving invading phage DNA. Each 116 amino acid monomer of the Ocr dimer has an unusual amino acid composition with 34 negatively charged side chains but only 6 positively charged side chains. Extensive mutagenesis of the charges of Ocr revealed a regression of Ocr activity from wild-type activity to partial activity then to variants inactive in antirestriction but deleterious for cell viability and lastly to totally inactive variants with no deleterious effect on cell viability. Throughout the mutagenesis the Ocr mutant proteins retained their folding. Our results show that the extreme bias in charged amino acids is not necessary for antirestriction activity but that less charged variants can affect cell viability by leading to restriction proficient but modification deficient cell phenotypes.
Although the DNA cleavage mechanism of Type I restriction–modification enzymes has been extensively studied, the mode of cleavage remains elusive. In this work, DNA ends produced by EcoKI, EcoAI and EcoR124I, members of the Type IA, IB and IC families, respectively, have been characterized by cloning and sequencing restriction products from the reactions with a plasmid DNA substrate containing a single recognition site for each enzyme. Here, we show that all three enzymes cut this substrate randomly with no preference for a particular base composition surrounding the cleavage site, producing both 5′- and 3′-overhangs of varying lengths. EcoAI preferentially generated 3′-overhangs of 2–3 nt, whereas EcoKI and EcoR124I displayed some preference for the formation of 5′-overhangs of a length of ∼6–7 and 3–5 nt, respectively. A mutant EcoAI endonuclease assembled from wild-type and nuclease-deficient restriction subunits generated a high proportion of nicked circular DNA, whereas the wild-type enzyme catalyzed efficient cleavage of both DNA strands. We conclude that Type I restriction enzymes require two restriction subunits to introduce DNA double-strand breaks, each providing one catalytic center for phosphodiester bond hydrolysis. Possible models for DNA cleavage are discussed.
Type I restriction-modification (RM) systems are comprised of two multi-subunit enzymes, the methyltransferase (∼160 kDa), responsible for methylation of DNA, and the restriction endonuclease (∼400 kDa), responsible for DNA cleavage. Both enzymes share a number of subunits. An engineered RM system, EcoR124INT, based on the N-terminal domain of the specificity subunit of EcoR124I was constructed that recognises the symmetrical sequence GAAN7TTC and is active as a methyltransferase. Here, we investigate the restriction endonuclease activity of R. EcoR124INT
in vitro and the subunit assembly of the multi-subunit enzyme. Finally, using small-angle neutron scattering and selective deuteration, we present a low-resolution structural model of the endonuclease and locate the motor subunits within the multi-subunit enzyme. We show that the covalent linkage between the two target recognition domains of the specificity subunit is not required for subunit assembly or enzyme activity, and discuss the implications for the evolution of Type I enzymes.
The Type I R–M system EcoR124I is encoded by three genes. HsdM is responsible for modification (DNA methylation), HsdS for DNA sequence specificity and HsdR for restriction endonuclease activity. The trimeric methyltransferase (M2S) recognises the asymmetric sequence (GAAN6RTCG). An engineered R–M system, denoted EcoR124INT, has two copies of the N-terminal domain of the HsdS subunit of EcoR124I, instead of a single S subunit with two domains, and recognises the symmetrical sequence GAAN7TTC. We investigate the methyltransferase activity of EcoR124INT, characterise the enzyme and its subunits by analytical ultracentrifugation and obtain low-resolution structural models from small-angle neutron scattering experiments using contrast variation and selective deuteration of subunits.
R–M, restriction–modification; MTase, methyltransferase; ENase, endonuclease; TRD, target recognition domain; PDB, Protein Data Bank; ocr, overcome classical restriction; SANS, small-angle neutron scattering; SV, sedimentation velocity; SE, sedimentation equilibrium; DLS, dynamic light scattering; DNA methyltransferase; DNA methylation; restriction–modification; sedimentation velocity; small-angle neutron scattering
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) allows the study of single protein–DNA interactions such as those observed with the Type I Restriction–Modification systems. The mechanisms employed by these systems are complicated and understanding them has proved problematic. It has been known for years that these enzymes translocate DNA during the restriction reaction, but more recent AFM work suggested that the archetypal EcoKI protein went through an additional dimerization stage before the onset of translocation. The results presented here extend earlier findings confirming the dimerization. Dimerization is particularly common if the DNA molecule contains two EcoKI recognition sites. DNA loops with dimers at their apex form if the DNA is sufficiently long, and also form in the presence of ATPγS, a non-hydrolysable analogue of the ATP required for translocation, indicating that the looping is on the reaction pathway of the enzyme. Visualization of specific DNA loops in the protein–DNA constructs was achieved by improved sample preparation and analysis techniques. The reported dimerization and looping mechanism is unlikely to be exclusive to EcoKI, and offers greater insight into the detailed functioning of this and other higher order assemblies of proteins operating by bringing distant sites on DNA into close proximity via DNA looping.
Restriction alleviation (RA) by the type I restriction enzyme EcoKI is caused by treatments that damage DNA. RA is due to proteolysis of the EcoKI HsdR subunit by the ClpXP ATP-dependent protease. Here we show that the modification-dependent enzyme McrBC is not subject to RA, although it is moderately sensitive to ClpAP.
The methyltransferase, M.EcoKI, recognizes the DNA sequence 5′-AACNNNNNNGTGC-3′ and methylates adenine at the underlined positions. DNA methylation has been shown by crystallography to occur via a base flipping mechanism and is believed to be a general mechanism for all methyltransferases. If no structure is available, the fluorescence of 2-aminopurine is often used as a signal for base flipping as it shows enhanced fluorescence when its environment is perturbed. We find that 2-aminopurine gives enhanced fluorescence emission not only when it is placed at the M.EcoKI methylation sites but also at a location adjacent to the target adenine. Thus it appears that 2-aminopurine fluorescence intensity is not a clear indicator of base flipping but is a more general measure of DNA distortion. Upon addition of the cofactor S-adenosyl-methionine to the M.EcoKI:DNA complex, the 2-aminopurine fluorescence changes to that of a new species showing excitation at 345 nm and emission at 450 nm. This change requires a fully active enzyme, the correct cofactor and the 2-aminopurine located at the methylation site. However, the new fluorescent species is not a covalently modified form of 2-aminopurine and we suggest that it represents a hitherto undetected physicochemical form of 2-aminopurine.
The EcoKI methyltransferase methylates two adenines on opposite strands of its bipartite DNA recognition sequence AAC(N6)GTGC. The enzyme has a strong preference for hemimethylated DNA substrates, but the methylation state of the DNA does not influence its binding affinity. Methylation interference was used to compare the contacts made by the EcoKI methyltransferase with unmodified, hemimethylated or fully modified DNAs. Contacts were seen at or near the N7 position of guanine, in the major groove, for all of the guanines in the EcoKI recognition sequence, and at two guanines on the edge of the intervening spacer sequence. The presence of the cofactor and methyl donor S-adenosyl methionine had a striking effect on the interference pattern for unmodified DNA which could not be mimicked by the presence of the cofactor analogue S-adenosyl homocysteine. In contrast, S-adenosyl methionine had no effect on the interference patterns for either kind of hemimethylated DNA, or for fully modified DNA. Differences between the interference patterns for the unmodified DNA and any of the three forms of methylated DNA provide evidence that methylation of the target sequence influences the conformation of the protein-DNA interface, and illustrate the importance of S-adenosyl methionine in the distinction between unmodified and methylated DNA by the methyltransferase.
The EcoRI adenine DNA methyltransferase forms part of a bacterial restriction/modification system; the methyltransferase modifies the second adenine within the canonical site GAATTC, thereby preventing the EcoRI endonuclease from cleaving this site. We show that five noncanonical EcoRI sites (TAATTC, CAATTC, GTATTC, GGATTC and GAGTTC) are not methylated in vivo under conditions when the canonical site is methylated. Only when the methyltransferase is overexpressed is partial in vivo methylation of the five sites detected. Our results suggest that the methyltransferase does not protect host DNA against potential endonuclease-mediated cleavage at noncanonical sites. Our related in vitro analysis of the methyltransferase reveals a low level of sequence-discrimination. We propose that the high in vivo specificity may be due to the active removal of methylated sequences by DNA repair enzymes (J. Bacteriology (1987), 169 3243-3250).
The IncN plasmid pKM101 (a derivative of R46) encodes the antirestriction protein ArdB (alleviation of restriction of DNA) in addition to another antirestriction protein, ArdA, described previously. The relevant gene, ardB, was located in the leading region of pKM101, about 7 kb from oriT. The nucleotide sequence of ardB was determined, and an appropriate polypeptide was identified in maxicells of Escherichia coli. Like ArdA, ArdB efficiently inhibits restriction by members of the three known families of type I systems of E. coli and only slightly affects the type II enzyme, EcoRI. However, in contrast to ArdA, ArdB is ineffective against the modification activity of the type I (EcoK) system. Comparison of deduced amino acid sequences of ArdA and ArdB revealed only one small region of similarity (nine residues), suggesting that this region may be somehow involved in the interaction with the type I restriction systems. We also found that the expression of both ardA and ardB genes is controlled jointly by two pKM101-encoded proteins, ArdK and ArdR, with molecular weights of about 15,000 and 20,000, respectively. The finding that the sequences immediately upstream of ardA and ardB share about 94% identity over 218 bp suggests that their expression may be controlled by ArdK and ArdR at the transcriptional level. Deletion studies and promoter probe analysis of these sequences revealed the regions responsible for the action of ArdK and ArdR as regulatory proteins. We propose that both types of antirestriction proteins may play a pivotal role in overcoming the host restriction barrier by self-transmissible broad-host-range plasmids. It seems likely that the ardKR-dependent regulatory system serves in this case as a genetic switch that controls the expression of plasmid-encoded antirestriction functions during mating.
The ArdA antirestriction protein of the IncB plasmid R16 selectively inhibited the restriction activity of EcoKI, leaving significant levels of modification activity under conditions in which restriction was almost completely prevented. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that ArdA functions in bacterial conjugation to allow an unmodified plasmid to evade restriction in the recipient bacterium and yet acquire cognate modification.
The crystallization and diffraction studies of EcoO109I DNA methyltransferase are described.
EcoO109I DNA methyltransferase (M.EcoO109I) is a type II modification enzyme from the EcoO109I restriction-modification system identified in Escherichia coli strain H709c. M.EcoO109I recognizes double-stranded RGGNCCY (where R = A or G, Y = T or C and N is any base) and transfers a methyl group to the C5 of the inner cytosines from S-adenosylmethionine. To reveal the mechanism of substrate recognition by M.EcoO109I, DNA-free and DNA-bound forms of M.EcoO109I were successfully crystallized. Crystals of the DNA-free and DNA-bound forms belonged to space groups P42212, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 120.5, c = 79.8 Å, and P21, with unit-cell parameters a = 55.8, b = 77.4, c = 117.4 Å, β = 93.5°, respectively.
DNA methytransferases; restriction-modification systems; DNA complexes
For efficient DNA cleavage, the Type III restriction endonuclease EcoP15I communicates with two inversely oriented recognition sites in an ATP-dependent process. EcoP15I consists of methylation (Mod) and restriction (Res) subunits forming a multifunctional enzyme complex able to methylate or to cleave DNA. In this study, we determined by different analytical methods that EcoP15I contains a single Res subunit in a Mod2Res stoichiometry. The Res subunit comprises a translocase (Tr) domain carrying functional motifs of superfamily 2 helicases and an endonuclease domain with a PD..D/EXK motif. We show that the isolated Tr domain retains ATP-hydrolyzing activity and binds single- and double-stranded DNA in a sequence-independent manner. To localize the regions of DNA binding, we screened peptide arrays representing the entire Res sequence for their ability to interact with DNA. We discovered four DNA-binding regions in the Tr domain and two DNA-binding regions in the endonuclease domain. Modelling of the Tr domain shows that these multiple DNA-binding regions are located on the surface, free to interact with DNA. Interestingly, the positions of the DNA-binding regions are conserved among other Type III restriction endonucleases.
The homodimeric Ocr (overcome classical restriction) protein of bacteriophage T7 is a molecular mimic of double-stranded DNA and a highly effective competitive inhibitor of the bacterial type I restriction/modification system. The surface of Ocr is replete with acidic residues that mimic the phosphate backbone of DNA. In addition, Ocr also mimics the overall dimensions of a bent 24-bp DNA molecule. In this study, we attempted to delineate these two mechanisms of DNA mimicry by chemically modifying the negative charges on the Ocr surface. Our analysis reveals that removal of about 46% of the carboxylate groups per Ocr monomer results in an ∼ 50-fold reduction in binding affinity for a methyltransferase from a model type I restriction/modification system. The reduced affinity between Ocr with this degree of modification and the methyltransferase is comparable with the affinity of DNA for the methyltransferase. Additional modification to remove ∼ 86% of the carboxylate groups further reduces its binding affinity, although the modified Ocr still binds to the methyltransferase via a mechanism attributable to the shape mimicry of a bent DNA molecule. Our results show that the electrostatic mimicry of Ocr increases the binding affinity for its target enzyme by up to ∼ 800-fold.
Ocr, overcome classical restriction; R/M, restriction/modification; EDC, 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride; HOBt, hydroxybenzotriazole; MS, mass spectrometry; MALDI-TOF, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight; FT-ICR, Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance; GdmCl, guanidinium hydrochloride; SAM, S-adenosyl-L-methionine; ITC, isothermal titration calorimetry; WT, wild type; DNA mimic; chemical modification; restriction/modification system
The specificity (S) subunit of the restriction enzyme EcoKI imparts specificity for the sequence AAC(N6)GTGC. Substitution of thymine with bromodeoxyuridine in a 25 bp DNA duplex containing this sequence stimulated UV light-induced covalent crosslinking to the S subunit. Crosslinking occurred only at the residue complementary to the first adenine in the AAC sequence, demonstrating a close contact between the major groove at this sequence and the S subunit. Peptide sequencing of a proteolytically-digested, crosslinked complex identified tyrosine 27 in the S subunit as the site of crosslinking. This is consistent with the role of the N-terminal domain of the S subunit in recognizing the AAC sequence. Tyrosine 27 is conserved in the S subunits of the three type I enzymes that share the sequence AA in the trinucleotide component of their target sequence. This suggests that tyrosine 27 may make a similar DNA contact in these other enzymes.