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1.  Fusion of GFP to the M.EcoKI DNA methyltransferase produces a new probe of Type I DNA restriction and modification enzymes 
Research highlights
► 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.
PMCID: PMC2914225  PMID: 20599730
DNA restriction/modification; DNA methyltransferase; Forster resonance energy transfer; Time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy; Time-resolved fluorescence; Green fluorescent protein
2.  Interaction of the ocr gene 0.3 protein of bacteriophage T7 with EcoKI restriction/modification enzyme 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(18):3936-3944.
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.
PMCID: PMC137103  PMID: 12235377
3.  SURVEY AND SUMMARY: Tracking EcoKI and DNA fifty years on: a golden story full of surprises 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(24):7059-7069.
1953 was a historical year for biology, as it marked the birth of the DNA helix, but also a report by Bertani and Weigle on ‘a barrier to infection’ of bacteriophage λ in its natural host, Escherichia coli K-12, that could be lifted by ‘host-controlled variation’ of the virus. This paper lay dormant till Nobel laureate Arber and PhD student Dussoix showed that the λ DNA was rejected and degraded upon infection of different bacterial hosts, unless it carried host-specific modification of that DNA, thus laying the foundations for the phenomenon of restriction and modification (R-M). The restriction enzyme of E.coli K-12, EcoKI, was purified in 1968 and required S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and ATP as cofactors. By the end of the decade there was substantial evidence for a chromosomal locus hsdK with three genes encoding restriction (R), modification (M) and specificity (S) subunits that assembled into a large complex of >400 kDa. The 1970s brought the message that EcoKI cut away from its DNA recognition target, to which site the enzyme remained bound while translocating the DNA past itself, with concomitant ATP hydrolysis and subsequent double-strand nicks. This translocation event created clearly visible DNA loops in the electron microscope. EcoKI became the archetypal Type I R-M enzyme with curious DNA translocating properties reminiscent of helicases, recognizing the bipartite asymmetric site AAC(N6)GTGC. Cloning of the hsdK locus in 1976 facilitated molecular understanding of this sophisticated R-M complex and in an elegant ‘pas de deux’ Murray and Dryden constructed the present model based on a large body of experimental data plus bioinformatics. This review celebrates the golden anniversary of EcoKI and ends with the exciting progress on the vital issue of restriction alleviation after DNA damage, also first reported in 1953, which involves intricate control of R subunit activity by the bacterial proteasome ClpXP, important results that will keep scientists on the EcoKI track for another 50 years to come.
PMCID: PMC291878  PMID: 14654681
4.  An investigation of the structural requirements for ATP hydrolysis and DNA cleavage by the EcoKI Type I DNA restriction and modification enzyme 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(17):7667-7676.
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.
PMCID: PMC3177214  PMID: 21685455
5.  Structure of HsdS Subunit from Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensis Sheds Lights on Mechanism of Dynamic Opening and Closing of Type I Methyltransferase 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17346.
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.
PMCID: PMC3047542  PMID: 21399684
6.  On the DNA cleavage mechanism of Type I restriction enzymes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(6):1760-1766.
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.
PMCID: PMC1069518  PMID: 15788748
7.  DNA bending by M.EcoKI methyltransferase is coupled to nucleotide flipping 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(10):3235-3244.
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.
PMCID: PMC1143692  PMID: 15942026
8.  Recycling of protein subunits during DNA translocation and cleavage by Type I restriction-modification enzymes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(17):7656-7666.
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.
PMCID: PMC3177213  PMID: 21712244
9.  ClpXP protease targets long-lived DNA translocation states of a helicase-like motor to cause restriction alleviation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(19):12082-12091.
We investigated how Escherichia coli ClpXP targets the helicase-nuclease (HsdR) subunit of the bacterial Type I restriction–modification enzyme EcoKI during restriction alleviation (RA). RA is a temporary reduction in endonuclease activity that occurs when Type I enzymes bind unmodified recognition sites on the host genome. These conditions arise upon acquisition of a new system by a naïve host, upon generation of new sites by genome rearrangement/mutation or during homologous recombination between hemimethylated DNA. Using recombinant DNA and proteins in vitro, we demonstrate that ClpXP targets EcoKI HsdR during dsDNA translocation on circular DNA but not on linear DNA. Protein roadblocks did not activate HsdR proteolysis. We suggest that DNA translocation lifetime, which is elevated on circular DNA relative to linear DNA, is important to RA. To identify the ClpX degradation tag (degron) in HsdR, we used bioinformatics and biochemical assays to design N- and C-terminal mutations that were analysed in vitro and in vivo. None of the mutants produced a phenotype consistent with loss of the degron, suggesting an as-yet-unidentified recognition pathway. We note that an EcoKI nuclease mutant still produces cell death in a clpx− strain, consistent with DNA damage induced by unregulated motor activity.
PMCID: PMC4231737  PMID: 25260590
10.  Response to UV damage by four Escherichia coli K-12 restriction systems. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1994;176(19):5888-5896.
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.
PMCID: PMC196804  PMID: 7928948
11.  Removal of a frameshift between the hsdM and hsdS genes of the EcoKI Type IA DNA restriction and modification system produces a new type of system and links the different families of Type I systems 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(21):10916-10924.
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.
PMCID: PMC3510504  PMID: 23002145
12.  Exploring the DNA mimicry of the Ocr protein of phage T7 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(16):8129-8143.
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.
PMCID: PMC3439906  PMID: 22684506
13.  ArdA proteins from different mobile genetic elements can bind to the EcoKI Type I DNA methyltransferase of E. coli K12☆ 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2014;1844(3):505-511.
Anti-restriction and anti-modification (anti-RM) is the ability to prevent cleavage by DNA restriction–modification (RM) systems of foreign DNA entering a new bacterial host. The evolutionary consequence of anti-RM is the enhanced dissemination of mobile genetic elements. Homologues of ArdA anti-RM proteins are encoded by genes present in many mobile genetic elements such as conjugative plasmids and transposons within bacterial genomes. The ArdA proteins cause anti-RM by mimicking the DNA structure bound by Type I RM enzymes. We have investigated ArdA proteins from the genomes of Enterococcus faecalis V583, Staphylococcus aureus Mu50 and Bacteroides fragilis NCTC 9343, and compared them to the ArdA protein expressed by the conjugative transposon Tn916. We find that despite having very different structural stability and secondary structure content, they can all bind to the EcoKI methyltransferase, a core component of the EcoKI Type I RM system. This finding indicates that the less structured ArdA proteins become fully folded upon binding. The ability of ArdA from diverse mobile elements to inhibit Type I RM systems from other bacteria suggests that they are an advantage for transfer not only between closely-related bacteria but also between more distantly related bacterial species.
•Diverse ArdA proteins all target the EcoKI Type I DNA modification enzyme.•ArdA proteins have variable secondary structure content.•ArdA all bind equally well to EcoKI despite stability variations.
PMCID: PMC3969726  PMID: 24368349
RM, restriction–modification; anti-RM, antirestriction/antimodification; MGE, mobile genetic element; MTase, modification methyltransferase; M subunit, modification subunit; S subunit, sequence specificity subunit; Orf, open reading frame; CD, circular dichroism; GuCl, guanidinium chloride; 2-ME, 2-mercaptoethanol; SEC, size exclusion chromatography; Kd, dissociation constant; DNA methyltransferase; ArdA protein; DNA mimic; Horizontal gene transfer
14.  Dissection of the DNA Mimicry of the Bacteriophage T7 Ocr Protein using Chemical Modification 
Journal of Molecular Biology  2009;391(3):565-576.
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.
PMCID: PMC2806950  PMID: 19523474
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
15.  Unusual 2-aminopurine fluorescence from a complex of DNA and the EcoKI methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(7):2223-2230.
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.
PMCID: PMC407817  PMID: 15107490
16.  The structure of the KlcA and ArdB proteins reveals a novel fold and antirestriction activity against Type I DNA restriction systems in vivo but not in vitro 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(5):1723-1737.
Plasmids, conjugative transposons and phage frequently encode anti-restriction proteins to enhance their chances of entering a new bacterial host that is highly likely to contain a Type I DNA restriction and modification (RM) system. The RM system usually destroys the invading DNA. Some of the anti-restriction proteins are DNA mimics and bind to the RM enzyme to prevent it binding to DNA. In this article, we characterize ArdB anti-restriction proteins and their close homologues, the KlcA proteins from a range of mobile genetic elements; including an ArdB encoded on a pathogenicity island from uropathogenic Escherichia coli and a KlcA from an IncP-1b plasmid, pBP136 isolated from Bordetella pertussis. We show that all the ArdB and KlcA act as anti-restriction proteins and inhibit the four main families of Type I RM systems in vivo, but fail to block the restriction endonuclease activity of the archetypal Type I RM enzyme, EcoKI, in vitro indicating that the action of ArdB is indirect and very different from that of the DNA mimics. We also present the structure determined by NMR spectroscopy of the pBP136 KlcA protein. The structure shows a novel protein fold and it is clearly not a DNA structural mimic.
PMCID: PMC2836571  PMID: 20007596
17.  Atomic force microscopy of the EcoKI Type I DNA restriction enzyme bound to DNA shows enzyme dimerization and DNA looping 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(6):2053-2063.
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.
PMCID: PMC2665228  PMID: 19223329
18.  Genetic Organization and Molecular Analysis of the EcoVIII Restriction-Modification System of Escherichia coli E1585-68 and Its Comparison with Isospecific Homologs 
The EcoVIII restriction-modification (R-M) system is carried by the Escherichia coli E1585-68 natural plasmid pEC156 (4,312 bp). The two genes were cloned and characterized. The G+C content of the EcoVIII R-M system is 36.1%, which is significantly lower than the average G+C content of either plasmid pEC156 (43.6%) or E. coli genomic DNA (50.8%). The difference suggests that there is a possibility that the EcoVIII R-M system was recently acquired by the genome. The 921-bp EcoVIII endonuclease (R · EcoVIII) gene (ecoVIIIR) encodes a 307-amino-acid protein with an Mr of 35,554. The convergently oriented EcoVIII methyltransferase (M · EcoVIII) gene (ecoVIIIM) consists of 912 bp that code for a 304-amino-acid protein with an Mr of 33,930. The exact positions of the start codon AUG were determined by protein microsequencing. Both enzymes recognize the specific palindromic sequence 5′-AAGCTT-3′. Preparations of EcoVIII R-M enzymes purified to homogeneity were characterized. R · EcoVIII acts as a dimer and cleaves a specific sequence between two adenine residues, leaving 4-nucleotide 5′ protruding ends. M · EcoVIII functions as a monomer and modifies the first adenine residue at the 5′ end of the specific sequence to N6-methyladenine. These enzymes are thus functionally identical to the corresponding enzymes of the HindIII (Haemophilus influenzae Rd) and LlaCI (Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris W15) R-M systems. This finding is reflected by the levels of homology of M · EcoVIII with M · HindIII and M · LlaCI at the amino acid sequence level (50 and 62%, respectively) and by the presence of nine sequence motifs conserved among m6 N-adenine β-class methyltransferases. The deduced amino acid sequence of R · EcoVIII shows weak homology with its two isoschizomers, R · HindIII (26%) and R · LlaCI (17%). A catalytic sequence motif characteristic of restriction endonucleases was found in the primary structure of R · EcoVIII (D108X12DXK123), as well as in the primary structures of R · LlaCI and R · HindIII. Polyclonal antibodies raised against R · EcoVIII did not react with R · HindIII, while anti-M · EcoVIII antibodies cross-reacted with M · LlaCI but not with M · HindIII. R · EcoVIII requires Mg(II) ions for phosphodiester bond cleavage. We found that the same ions are strong inhibitors of the M · EcoVIII enzyme. The biological implications of this finding are discussed.
PMCID: PMC154532  PMID: 12732532
19.  Type III restriction endonuclease EcoP15I is a heterotrimeric complex containing one Res subunit with several DNA-binding regions and ATPase activity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(8):3610-3622.
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.
PMCID: PMC3333885  PMID: 22199260
20.  Lack of Regulation of the Modification-Dependent Restriction Enzyme McrBC in Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(6):1794-1795.
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.
PMCID: PMC134900  PMID: 11872734
21.  S-adenosyl methionine alters the DNA contacts of the EcoKI methyltransferase. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1995;23(6):967-974.
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.
PMCID: PMC306793  PMID: 7731811
22.  Evidence for Horizontal Transfer of the EcoT38I Restriction- Modification Gene to Chromosomal DNA by the P2 Phage and Diversity of Defective P2 Prophages in Escherichia coli TH38 Strains 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(7):2296-2305.
A DNA fragment carrying the genes coding for a novel EcoT38I restriction endonuclease (R.EcoT38I) and EcoT38I methyltransferase (M.EcoT38I), which recognize G(A/G)GC(C/T)C, was cloned from the chromosomal DNA of Escherichia coli TH38. The endonuclease and methyltransferase genes were in a head-to-head orientation and were separated by a 330-nucleotide intergenic region. A third gene, the C.EcoT38I gene, was found in the intergenic region, partially overlapping the R.EcoT38I gene. The gene product, C.EcoT38I, acted as both a positive regulator of R.EcoT38I gene expression and a negative regulator of M.EcoT38I gene expression. M.EcoT38I purified from recombinant E. coli cells was shown to be a monomeric protein and to methylate the inner cytosines in the recognition sequence. R.EcoT38I was purified from E. coli HB101 expressing M.EcoT38I and formed a homodimer. The EcoT38I restriction (R)-modification (M) system (R-M system) was found to be inserted between the A and Q genes of defective bacteriophage P2, which was lysogenized in the chromosome at locI, one of the P2 phage attachment sites observed in both E. coli K-12 MG1655 and TH38 chromosomal DNAs. Ten strains of E. coli TH38 were examined for the presence of the EcoT38I R-M gene on the P2 prophage. Conventional PCR analysis and assaying of R activity demonstrated that all strains carried a single copy of the EcoT38I R-M gene and expressed R activity but that diversity of excision in the ogr, D, H, I, and J genes in the defective P2 prophage had arisen.
PMCID: PMC151499  PMID: 12644501
23.  A novel gene, ardD, determines antirestriction activity of the non-conjugative transposon Tn5053 and is located antisense within the tniA gene 
Fems Microbiology Letters  2012;337(1):55-60.
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.
PMCID: PMC3533173  PMID: 22967207
restriction-modification system type I; antirestriction protein; mercury-resistance transposon; overlapping genes
24.  Structural and Functional Analysis of the Symmetrical Type I Restriction Endonuclease R.EcoR124INT 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35263.
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.
PMCID: PMC3320862  PMID: 22493743
25.  Quick identification of Type I restriction enzyme isoschizomers using newly developed pTypeI and reference plasmids 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(13):e81.
Although DNA-recognition sequences are among the most important characteristics of restriction enzymes and their corresponding methylases, determination of the recognition sequence of a Type-I restriction enzyme is a complicated procedure. To facilitate this process we have previously developed plasmid R-M tests and the computer program RM search. To specifically identify Type-I isoschizomers, we engineered a pUC19 derivative plasmid, pTypeI, which contains all of the 27 Type-I recognition sequences in a 248-bp DNA fragment. Furthermore, a series of 27 plasmids (designated ‘reference plasmids’), each containing a unique Type-I recognition sequence, were also constructed using pMECA, a derivative of pUC vectors. In this study, we tried those vectors on 108 clinical E. coli strains and found that 48 strains produced isoschizomers of Type I enzymes. A detailed study of 26 strains using these ‘reference plasmids’ revealed that they produce seven different isoschizomers of the prototypes: EcoAI, EcoBI, EcoKI, Eco377I, Eco646I, Eco777I and Eco826I. One strain EC1344 produces two Type I enzymes (EcoKI and Eco377I).
PMCID: PMC2490747  PMID: 18562466

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