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1.  Three-stage biochemical selection: cloning of prototype class IIS/IIC/IIG restriction endonuclease-methyltransferase TsoI from the thermophile Thermus scotoductus 
BMC Molecular Biology  2013;14:17.
In continuing our research into the new family of bifunctional restriction endonucleases (REases), we describe the cloning of the tsoIRM gene. Currently, the family includes six thermostable enzymes: TaqII, Tth111II, TthHB27I, TspGWI, TspDTI, TsoI, isolated from various Thermus sp. and two thermolabile enzymes: RpaI and CchII, isolated from mesophilic bacteria Rhodopseudomonas palustris and Chlorobium chlorochromatii, respectively. The enzymes have several properties in common. They are large proteins (molecular size app. 120 kDa), coded by fused genes, with the REase and methyltransferase (MTase) in a single polypeptide, where both activities are affected by S-adenosylmethionine (SAM). They recognize similar asymmetric cognate sites and cleave at a distance of 11/9 nt from the recognition site. Thus far, we have cloned and characterised TaqII, Tth111II, TthHB27I, TspGWI and TspDTI.
TsoI REase, which originate from thermophilic Thermus scotoductus RFL4 (T. scotoductus), was cloned in Escherichia coli (E. coli) using two rounds of biochemical selection of the T. scotoductus genomic library for the TsoI methylation phenotype. DNA sequencing of restriction-resistant clones revealed the common open reading frame (ORF) of 3348 bp, coding for a large polypeptide of 1116 aminoacid (aa) residues, which exhibited a high level of similarity to Tth111II (50% identity, 60% similarity). The ORF was PCR-amplified, subcloned into a pET21 derivative under the control of a T7 promoter and was subjected to the third round of biochemical selection in order to isolate error-free clones. Induction experiments resulted in synthesis of an app. 125 kDa protein, exhibiting TsoI-specific DNA cleavage. Also, the wild-type (wt) protein was purified and reaction optima were determined.
Previously we identified and cloned the Thermus family RM genes using a specially developed method based on partial proteolysis of thermostable REases. In the case of TsoI the classic biochemical selection method was successful, probably because of the substantially lower optimal reaction temperature of TsoI (app. 10-15°C). That allowed for sufficient MTase activity in vivo in recombinant E. coli. Interestingly, TsoI originates from bacteria with a high optimum growth temperature of 67°C, which indicates that not all bacterial enzymes match an organism’s thermophilic nature, and yet remain functional cell components. Besides basic research advances, the cloning and characterisation of the new prototype REase from the Thermus sp. family enzymes is also of practical importance in gene manipulation technology, as it extends the range of available DNA cleavage specificities.
PMCID: PMC3751577  PMID: 23919831
2.  Modified ‘one amino acid-one codon’ engineering of high GC content TaqII-coding gene from thermophilic Thermus aquaticus results in radical expression increase 
An industrial approach to protein production demands maximization of cloned gene expression, balanced with the recombinant host’s viability. Expression of toxic genes from thermophiles poses particular difficulties due to high GC content, mRNA secondary structures, rare codon usage and impairing the host’s coding plasmid replication.
TaqII belongs to a family of bifunctional enzymes, which are a fusion of the restriction endonuclease (REase) and methyltransferase (MTase) activities in a single polypeptide. The family contains thermostable REases with distinct specificities: TspGWI, TaqII, Tth111II/TthHB27I, TspDTI and TsoI and a few enzymes found in mesophiles. While not being isoschizomers, the enzymes exhibit amino acid (aa) sequence homologies, having molecular sizes of ~120 kDa share common modular architecture, resemble Type-I enzymes, cleave DNA 11/9 nt from the recognition sites, their activity is affected by S-adenosylmethionine (SAM).
We describe the taqIIRM gene design, cloning and expression of the prototype TaqII. The enzyme amount in natural hosts is extremely low. To improve expression of the taqIIRM gene in Escherichia coli (E. coli), we designed and cloned a fully synthetic, low GC content, low mRNA secondary structure taqIIRM, codon-optimized gene under a bacteriophage lambda (λ) P R promoter. Codon usage based on a modified ‘one amino acid–one codon’ strategy, weighted towards low GC content codons, resulted in approximately 10-fold higher expression of the synthetic gene. 718 codons of total 1105 were changed, comprising 65% of the taqIIRM gene. The reason for we choose a less effective strategy rather than a resulting in high expression yields ‘codon randomization’ strategy, was intentional, sub-optimal TaqII in vivo production, in order to decrease the high ‘toxicity’ of the REase-MTase protein.
Recombinant wt and synthetic taqIIRM gene were cloned and expressed in E. coli. The modified ‘one amino acid–one codon’ method tuned for thermophile-coded genes was applied to obtain overexpression of the ‘toxic’ taqIIRM gene. The method appears suited for industrial production of thermostable ‘toxic’ enzymes in E. coli. This novel variant of the method biased toward increasing a gene’s AT content may provide economic benefits for industrial applications.
PMCID: PMC3893498  PMID: 24410856
3.  Cloning and analysis of a bifunctional methyltransferase/restriction endonuclease TspGWI, the prototype of a Thermus sp. enzyme family 
BMC Molecular Biology  2009;10:52.
Restriction-modification systems are a diverse class of enzymes. They are classified into four major types: I, II, III and IV. We have previously proposed the existence of a Thermus sp. enzyme family, which belongs to type II restriction endonucleases (REases), however, it features also some characteristics of types I and III. Members include related thermophilic endonucleases: TspGWI, TaqII, TspDTI, and Tth111II.
Here we describe cloning, mutagenesis and analysis of the prototype TspGWI enzyme that recognises the 5'-ACGGA-3' site and cleaves 11/9 nt downstream. We cloned, expressed, and mutagenised the tspgwi gene and investigated the properties of its product, the bifunctional TspGWI restriction/modification enzyme. Since TspGWI does not cleave DNA completely, a cloning method was devised, based on amino acid sequencing of internal proteolytic fragments. The deduced amino acid sequence of the enzyme shares significant sequence similarity with another representative of the Thermus sp. family – TaqII. Interestingly, these enzymes recognise similar, yet different sequences in the DNA. Both enzymes cleave DNA at the same distance, but differ in their ability to cleave single sites and in the requirement of S-adenosylmethionine as an allosteric activator for cleavage. Both the restriction endonuclease (REase) and methyltransferase (MTase) activities of wild type (wt) TspGWI (either recombinant or isolated from Thermus sp.) are dependent on the presence of divalent cations.
TspGWI is a bifunctional protein comprising a tandem arrangement of Type I-like domains; particularly noticeable is the central HsdM-like module comprising a helical domain and a highly conserved S-adenosylmethionine-binding/catalytic MTase domain, containing DPAVGTG and NPPY motifs. TspGWI also possesses an N-terminal PD-(D/E)XK nuclease domain related to the corresponding domains in HsdR subunits, but lacks the ATP-dependent translocase module of the HsdR subunit and the additional domains that are involved in subunit-subunit interactions in Type I systems. The MTase and REase activities of TspGWI are autonomous and can be uncoupled. Structurally and functionally, the TspGWI protomer appears to be a streamlined 'half' of a Type I enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2700111  PMID: 19480701
4.  Bifunctional TaqII restriction endonuclease: redefining the prototype DNA recognition site and establishing the Fidelity Index for partial cleaving 
BMC Biochemistry  2011;12:62.
The TaqII enzyme is a member of the Thermus sp. enzyme family that we propounded previously within Type IIS restriction endonucleases, containing related thermophilic bifunctional endonucleases-methyltransferases from various Thermus sp.: TaqII, Tth111II, TthHB27I, TspGWI, TspDTI and TsoI. These enzymes show significant nucleotide and amino acid sequence similarities, a rare phenomenon among restriction endonucleases, along with similarities in biochemical properties, molecular size, DNA recognition sequences and cleavage sites. They also feature some characteristics of Types I and III.
Barker et al. reported the Type IIS/IIC restriction endonuclease TaqII as recognizing two distinct cognate site variants (5'-GACCGA-3' and 5'-CACCCA-3') while cleaving 11/9 nucleotides downstream. We used four independent methods, namely, shotgun cloning and sequencing, restriction pattern analysis, digestion of particular custom substrates and GeneScan analysis, to demonstrate that the recombinant enzyme recognizes only 5'-GACCGA-3' sites and cleaves 11/9 nucleotides downstream. We did not observe any 5'-CACCCA-3' cleavage under a variety of conditions and site arrangements tested. We also characterized the enzyme biochemically and established new digestion conditions optimal for practical enzyme applications. Finally, we developed and propose a new version of the Fidelity Index - the Fidelity Index for Partial Cleavage (FI-PC).
The DNA recognition sequence of the bifunctional prototype TaqII endonuclease-methyltransferase from Thermus aquaticus has been redefined as recognizing only 5'-GACCGA-3' cognate sites. The reaction conditions (pH and salt concentrations) were designed either to minimize (pH = 8.0 and 10 mM ammonium sulphate) or to enhance star activity (pH = 6.0 and no salt). Redefinition of the recognition site and reaction conditions makes this prototype endonuclease a useful tool for DNA manipulation; as yet, this enzyme has no practical applications. The extension of the Fidelity Index will be helpful for DNA manipulation with enzymes only partially cleaving DNA.
PMCID: PMC3280180  PMID: 22141927
5.  A new Thermus sp. class-IIS enzyme sub-family: isolation of a ‘twin’ endonuclease TspDTI with a novel specificity 5′-ATGAA(N11/9)-3′, related to TspGWI, TaqII and Tth111II 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(14):e74.
The TspDTI restriction endonuclease, which shows a novel recognition specificity 5′-ATGAA(N11/9)-3′, was isolated from Thermus sp. DT. TspDTI appears to be a ‘twin’ of restriction endonuclease TspGWI from Thermus sp. GW, as we have previously reported. TspGWI was isolated from the same location as TspDTI, it recognizes a related sequence 5′-ACGGA(N11/9)-3′ and has conserved cleavage positions. Both enzymes resemble two other class-IIS endonucleases from Thermus sp.: TaqII and Tth111II. N-terminal amino acid sequences of TspGWI tryptic peptides exhibit 88.9–100% similarity to the TaqII sequence. All four enzymes were purified to homogeneity; their polypeptide sizes (114.5–122 kDa) make them the largest class-IIS restriction endonucleases known to date. The existence of a Thermus sp. sub-family of class-IIS restriction endonucleases of a common origin is herein proposed.
PMCID: PMC167652  PMID: 12853651
6.  A new genomic tool, ultra-frequently cleaving TaqII/sinefungin endonuclease with a combined 2.9-bp recognition site, applied to the construction of horse DNA libraries 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:370.
Genomics and metagenomics are currently leading research areas, with DNA sequences accumulating at an exponential rate. Although enormous advances in DNA sequencing technologies are taking place, progress is frequently limited by factors such as genomic contig assembly and generation of representative libraries. A number of DNA fragmentation methods, such as hydrodynamic sharing, sonication or DNase I fragmentation, have various drawbacks, including DNA damage, poor fragmentation control, irreproducibility and non-overlapping DNA segment representation. Improvements in these limited DNA scission methods are consequently needed. An alternative method for obtaining higher quality DNA fragments involves partial digestion with restriction endonucleases (REases).
We have shown previously that class-IIS/IIC/IIG TspGWI REase, the prototype member of the Thermus sp. enzyme family, can be chemically relaxed by a cofactor analogue, allowing it to recognize very short DNA sequences of 3-bp combined frequency. Such frequently cleaving REases are extremely rare, with CviJI/CviJI*, SetI and FaiI the only other ones found in nature. Their unusual features make them very useful molecular tools for the development of representative DNA libraries.
We constructed a horse genomic library and a deletion derivative library of the butyrylcholinesterase cDNA coding region using a novel method, based on TaqII, Thermus sp. family bifunctional enzyme exhibiting cofactor analogue specificity relaxation. We used sinefungin (SIN) – an S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) analogue with reversed charge pattern, and dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), to convert the 6-bp recognition site TaqII (5′-GACCGA-3′ [11/9]) into a theoretical 2.9-bp REase, with 70 shortened variants of the canonical recognition sequence detected. Because partial DNA cleavage is an inherent feature of the Thermus sp. enzyme family, this modified TaqII is uniquely suited to quasi-random library generation.
In the presence of SIN/DMSO, TaqII REase is transformed from cleaving every 4096 bp on average to cleaving every 58 bp. TaqII SIN/DMSO thus extends the palette of available REase prototype specificities. This phenomenon, employed under partial digestion conditions, was applied to quasi-random DNA fragmentation. Further applications include high sensitivity probe generation and metagenomic DNA amplification.
PMCID: PMC3681635  PMID: 23724933
7.  Cofactor analogue-induced chemical reactivation of endonuclease activity in a DNA cleavage/methylation deficient TspGWI N473A variant in the NPPY motif 
Molecular Biology Reports  2014;41(4):2313-2323.
We reported previously that TspGWI, a prototype enzyme of a new Thermus sp. family of restriction endonucleases-methyltransferases (REases-MTases), undergoes the novel phenomenon of sinefungin (SIN)-caused specificity transition. Here we investigated mutant TspGWI N473A, containing a single amino acid (aa) substitution in the NPPY motif of the MTase. Even though the aa substitution is located within the MTase polypeptide segment, DNA cleavage and modification are almost completely abolished, indicating that the REase and MTase are intertwined. Remarkably, the TspGWI N473A REase functionality can be completely reconstituted by the addition of SIN. We hypothesize that SIN binds specifically to the enzyme and restores the DNA cleavage-competent protein tertiary structure. This indicates the significant role of allosteric effectors in DNA cleavage in Thermus sp. enzymes. This is the first case of REase mutation suppression by an S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) cofactor analogue. Moreover, the TspGWI N473A clone strongly affects E. coli division control, acting as a ‘selfish gene’. The mutant lacks the competing MTase activity and therefore might be useful for applications in DNA manipulation. Here we present a case study of a novel strategy for REase activity/specificity alteration by a single aa substitution, based on the bioinformatic analysis of active motif locations, combining (a) aa sequence engineering (b) the alteration of protein enzymatic properties, and (c) the use of cofactor–analogue cleavage reconstitution and stimulation.
PMCID: PMC3968444  PMID: 24442320
Endonuclease-methyltransferase; Thermus sp. enzyme; Enzymatic reaction cofactor; Cofactor analogue; Sinefungin; S-adenosylmethione; Mutant activation; Specificity change
8.  DYZ1 arrays show sequence variation between the monozygotic males 
BMC Genetics  2014;15:19.
Monozygotic twins (MZT) are an important resource for genetical studies in the context of normal and diseased genomes. In the present study we used DYZ1, a satellite fraction present in the form of tandem arrays on the long arm of the human Y chromosome, as a tool to uncover sequence variations between the monozygotic males.
We detected copy number variation, frequent insertions and deletions within the sequences of DYZ1 arrays amongst all the three sets of twins used in the present study. MZT1b showed loss of 35 bp compared to that in 1a, whereas 2a showed loss of 31 bp compared to that in 2b. Similarly, 3b showed 10 bp insertion compared to that in 3a. MZT1a germline DNA showed loss of 5 bp and 1b blood DNA showed loss of 26 bp compared to that of 1a blood and 1b germline DNA, respectively. Of the 69 restriction sites detected in DYZ1 arrays, MboII, BsrI, TspEI and TaqI enzymes showed frequent loss and or gain amongst all the 3 pairs studied. MZT1 pair showed loss/gain of VspI, BsrDI, AgsI, PleI, TspDTI, TspEI, TfiI and TaqI restriction sites in both blood and germline DNA. All the three sets of MZT showed differences in the number of DYZ1 copies. FISH signals reflected somatic mosaicism of the DYZ1 copies across the cells.
DYZ1 showed both sequence and copy number variation between the MZT males. Sequence variation was also noticed between germline and blood DNA samples of the same individual as we observed at least in one set of sample. The result suggests that DYZ1 faithfully records all the genetical changes occurring after the twining which may be ascribed to the environmental factors.
PMCID: PMC3925983  PMID: 24495361
Monozygotic twins; Y chromosome; DYZ1
9.  Characterization of cleavage intermediate and star sites of RM.Tth111II 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:3838.
Tth111II is a thermostable Type IIGS restriction enzyme that recognizes DNA sites CAARCA (R = A or G) and cleaves downstream at N11/N9. Here, the tth111IIRM gene was cloned and expressed in E. coli, and Tth111II was purified. The purified enzyme contains internally-bound S-adenosylmethionine (SAM). When the internal SAM was removed, the endonuclease activity was stimulated by adding SAM or its analog sinefungin. The cleavage intermediate is mostly top-strand nicked DNA on a single-site plasmid. Addition of duplex oligos with a cognate site stimulates cleavage activity of the one-site substrate. Tth111II cleaves a two-site plasmid DNA with equal efficiency regardless of site orientation. We propose the top-strand nicking is carried out by a Tth111II monomer and bottom-strand cleavage is carried out by a transient dimer. Tth111II methylates cleavage product-like duplex oligos CAAACAN9, but the modification rate is estimated to be much slower than the top-strand nicking rate. We cloned and sequenced a number of Tth111II star sites which are 1-bp different from the cognate sites. A biochemical pathway is proposed for the restriction and methylation activities of Tth111II.
PMCID: PMC3899748  PMID: 24452415
10.  TspGWI, a thermophilic class-IIS restriction endonuclease from Thermus sp., recognizes novel asymmetric sequence 5′-ACGGA(N11/9)-3′ 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(7):e33.
A novel prototype class-IIS restriction endonuclease, TspGWI, was isolated from the thermophilic bacterium Thermus sp. GW. The recognition sequence and cleavage positions have been established: TspGWI recognizes the non-palindromic 5-bp sequence 5′-ACGGA-3′ and cleaves the DNA 11 and 9 nt downstream in the top and bottom strand, respectively. In addition, an accompanying endonuclease, TspGWII, an isoschizomer of Pst I, was found in Thermus sp. GW cells.
PMCID: PMC101857  PMID: 11917039
11.  Naturally-occurring, dually-functional fusions between restriction endonucleases and regulatory proteins 
Restriction-modification (RM) systems appear to play key roles in modulating gene flow among bacteria and archaea. Because the restriction endonuclease (REase) is potentially lethal to unmethylated new host cells, regulation to ensure pre-expression of the protective DNA methyltransferase (MTase) is essential to the spread of RM genes. This is particularly true for Type IIP RM systems, in which the REase and MTase are separate, independently-active proteins. A substantial subset of Type IIP RM systems are controlled by an activator-repressor called C protein. In these systems, C controls the promoter for its own gene, and for the downstream REase gene that lacks its own promoter. Thus MTase is expressed immediately after the RM genes enter a new cell, while expression of REase is delayed until sufficient C protein accumulates. To study the variation in and evolution of this regulatory mechanism, we searched for RM systems closely related to the well-studied C protein-dependent PvuII RM system. Unexpectedly, among those found were several in which the C protein and REase genes were fused.
The gene for CR.NsoJS138I fusion protein (nsoJS138ICR, from the bacterium Niabella soli) was cloned, and the fusion protein produced and partially purified. Western blots provided no evidence that, under the conditions tested, anything other than full-length fusion protein is produced. This protein had REase activity in vitro and, as expected from the sequence similarity, its specificity was indistinguishable from that for PvuII REase, though the optimal reaction conditions were different. Furthermore, the fusion was active as a C protein, as revealed by in vivo activation of a lacZ reporter fusion to the promoter region for the nsoJS138ICR gene.
Fusions between C proteins and REases have not previously been characterized, though other fusions have (such as between REases and MTases). These results reinforce the evidence for impressive modularity among RM system proteins, and raise important questions about the implications of the C-REase fusions on expression kinetics of these RM systems.
PMCID: PMC3850674  PMID: 24083337
Restriction-modification systems; Restriction endonuclease; Gene regulation; Fused genes; C protein; Regulatory evolution
12.  A Mimicking-of-DNA-Methylation-Patterns Pipeline for Overcoming the Restriction Barrier of Bacteria 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(9):e1002987.
Genetic transformation of bacteria harboring multiple Restriction-Modification (R-M) systems is often difficult using conventional methods. Here, we describe a mimicking-of-DNA-methylation-patterns (MoDMP) pipeline to address this problem in three difficult-to-transform bacterial strains. Twenty-four putative DNA methyltransferases (MTases) from these difficult-to-transform strains were cloned and expressed in an Escherichia coli strain lacking all of the known R-M systems and orphan MTases. Thirteen of these MTases exhibited DNA modification activity in Southwestern dot blot or Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (LC–MS) assays. The active MTase genes were assembled into three operons using the Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA assembler and were co-expressed in the E. coli strain lacking known R-M systems and orphan MTases. Thereafter, results from the dot blot and restriction enzyme digestion assays indicated that the DNA methylation patterns of the difficult-to-transform strains are mimicked in these E. coli hosts. The transformation of the Gram-positive Bacillus amyloliquefaciens TA208 and B. cereus ATCC 10987 strains with the shuttle plasmids prepared from MoDMP hosts showed increased efficiencies (up to four orders of magnitude) compared to those using the plasmids prepared from the E. coli strain lacking known R-M systems and orphan MTases or its parental strain. Additionally, the gene coding for uracil phosphoribosyltransferase (upp) was directly inactivated using non-replicative plasmids prepared from the MoDMP host in B. amyloliquefaciens TA208. Moreover, the Gram-negative chemoautotrophic Nitrobacter hamburgensis strain X14 was transformed and expressed Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). Finally, the sequence specificities of active MTases were identified by restriction enzyme digestion, making the MoDMP system potentially useful for other strains. The effectiveness of the MoDMP pipeline in different bacterial groups suggests a universal potential. This pipeline could facilitate the functional genomics of the strains that are difficult to transform.
Author Summary
Approximately 95% of the genome-sequenced bacteria harbor Restriction-Modification (R-M) systems. R-M systems usually occur in pairs, i.e., DNA methyltransferases (MTases) and restriction endonucleases (REases). REases can degrade invading DNA to protect the cell from infection by phages. This protecting machinery has also become the barrier for experimental genetic manipulation, because the newly introduced DNA would be degraded by the REases of the transformed bacteria. In this study we have developed a pipeline to protect DNA by methylation from cleavage by host REases. Multiple DNA MTases were cloned from three difficult-to-transform bacterial strains and co-expressed in an E. coli strain lacking all of the known endogenous R-M systems and orphan MTases. Thus, the DNA methylation patterns of these strains have become similar to that of the difficult-to-transform strains. Ultimately, the DNA prepared from these E. coli strains can overcome the R-M barrier of the bacterial strains that are difficult to transform and achieve genetic manipulation. The effectiveness of this pipeline in different bacterial groups suggests a universal potential. This pipeline could facilitate functional genomics of bacterial strains that are difficult to transform.
PMCID: PMC3459991  PMID: 23028379
13.  KpnI restriction endonuclease and methyltransferase exhibit contrasting mode of sequence recognition 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(10):3148-3155.
The molecular basis of the interaction of KpnI restriction endonuclease (REase) and the corresponding methyltransferase (MTase) at their cognate recognition sequence is investigated using a range of footprinting techniques. DNase I protection analysis with the REase reveals the protection of a 14–18 bp region encompassing the hexanucleotide recognition sequence. The MTase, in contrast, protects a larger region. KpnI REase contacts two adjacent guanine residues and the single adenine residue in both the strands within the recognition sequence 5′-GGTACC-3′, inferred by dimethylsulfate (DMS) protection, interference and missing nucleotide interference analysis. In contrast, KpnI MTase does not show elaborate base-specific contacts. Ethylation interference analysis also showed the differential interaction of REase and MTase with phosphate groups of three adjacent bases on both strands within the recognition sequence. The single thymine residue within the sequence is hyper- reactive to the permanganate oxidation, consistent with MTase-induced base flipping. The REase on the other hand does not show any major DNA distortion. The results demonstrate that the differences in the molecular interaction pattern of the two proteins at the same recognition sequence reflect the contrasting chemistry of DNA cleavage and methylation catalyzed by these two dissimilar enzymes, working in combination as constituents of a cellular defense strategy.
PMCID: PMC434444  PMID: 15192117
14.  Structural and evolutionary classification of Type II restriction enzymes based on theoretical and experimental analyses 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(11):3552-3569.
For a very long time, Type II restriction enzymes (REases) have been a paradigm of ORFans: proteins with no detectable similarity to each other and to any other protein in the database, despite common cellular and biochemical function. Crystallographic analyses published until January 2008 provided high-resolution structures for only 28 of 1637 Type II REase sequences available in the Restriction Enzyme database (REBASE). Among these structures, all but two possess catalytic domains with the common PD-(D/E)XK nuclease fold. Two structures are unrelated to the others: R.BfiI exhibits the phospholipase D (PLD) fold, while R.PabI has a new fold termed ‘half-pipe’. Thus far, bioinformatic studies supported by site-directed mutagenesis have extended the number of tentatively assigned REase folds to five (now including also GIY-YIG and HNH folds identified earlier in homing endonucleases) and provided structural predictions for dozens of REase sequences without experimentally solved structures. Here, we present a comprehensive study of all Type II REase sequences available in REBASE together with their homologs detectable in the nonredundant and environmental samples databases at the NCBI. We present the summary and critical evaluation of structural assignments and predictions reported earlier, new classification of all REase sequences into families, domain architecture analysis and new predictions of three-dimensional folds. Among 289 experimentally characterized (not putative) Type II REases, whose apparently full-length sequences are available in REBASE, we assign 199 (69%) to contain the PD-(D/E)XK domain. The HNH domain is the second most common, with 24 (8%) members. When putative REases are taken into account, the fraction of PD-(D/E)XK and HNH folds changes to 48% and 30%, respectively. Fifty-six characterized (and 521 predicted) REases remain unassigned to any of the five REase folds identified so far, and may exhibit new architectures. These enzymes are proposed as the most interesting targets for structure determination by high-resolution experimental methods. Our analysis provides the first comprehensive map of sequence-structure relationships among Type II REases and will help to focus the efforts of structural and functional genomics of this large and biotechnologically important class of enzymes.
PMCID: PMC2441816  PMID: 18456708
15.  The Role of the Methyltransferase Domain of Bifunctional Restriction Enzyme RM.BpuSI in Cleavage Activity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80967.
Restriction enzyme (REase) RM.BpuSI can be described as a Type IIS/C/G REase for its cleavage site outside of the recognition sequence (Type IIS), bifunctional polypeptide possessing both methyltransferase (MTase) and endonuclease activities (Type IIC) and endonuclease activity stimulated by S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) (Type IIG). The stimulatory effect of SAM on cleavage activity presents a major paradox: a co-factor of the MTase activity that renders the substrate unsusceptible to cleavage enhances the cleavage activity. Here we show that the RM.BpuSI MTase activity modifies both cleavage substrate and product only when they are unmethylated. The MTase activity is, however, much lower than that of M1.BpuSI and is thought not to be the major MTase for host DNA protection. SAM and sinefungin (SIN) increase the Vmax of the RM.BpuSI cleavage activity with a proportional change in Km, suggesting the presence of an energetically more favorable pathway is taken. We further showed that RM.BpuSI undergoes substantial conformational changes in the presence of Ca2+, SIN, cleavage substrate and/or product. Distinct conformers are inferred as the pre-cleavage/cleavage state (in the presence of Ca2+, substrate or both) and MTase state (in the presence of SIN and substrate, SIN and product or product alone). Interestingly, RM.BpuSI adopts a unique conformation when only SIN is present. This SIN-bound state is inferred as a branch point for cleavage and MTase activity and an intermediate to an energetically favorable pathway for cleavage, probably through increasing the binding affinity of the substrate to the enzyme under cleavage conditions. Mutation of a SAM-binding residue resulted in altered conformational changes in the presence of substrate or Ca2+ and eliminated cleavage activity. The present study underscores the role of the MTase domain as facilitator of efficient cleavage activity for RM.BpuSI.
PMCID: PMC3817140  PMID: 24224063
16.  A spite specific endonuclease from thermus thermophilus 111, Tth111I. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1980;8(1):43-56.
A site specific endonuclease with novel specificity has been isolated from Thermus thermophilus strain 111 and named Tth111I. Tth111I cleaves lambda DNA into three fragments of 23.5, 25.7 and 50.8% of the total length, and ColE1 DNA into two fragments of nearly equal length. The sequences around Tth111I cleavage sites of ColE1 and lambda DNA were determined by the Maxam and Gilbert method and the two dimensional mapping method. The results suggest that Tth111I recognizes the DNA sequence (formula: see text) and cleaves the site as indicated by the arrows. Assuming that the first T.A pair in the sequence can be replaced for any base pair, the Tth111I recognition sequence has the symmetry with the two-fold axis as most type II restriction endonucleases do.
PMCID: PMC327241  PMID: 6243779
17.  Virion-Associated Restriction Endonucleases of Chloroviruses 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(16):8114-8123.
Chloroviruses are large, double-stranded-DNA, plaque-forming viruses that infect certain eukaryotic chlorella-like green algae. The prototype of the genus is Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus 1 (PBCV-1). Chlorovirus genomes contain various amounts of methylated nucleotides due to virus-encoded DNA methyltransferases (MTases); about 25% of the MTases are associated with companion DNA site-specific (restriction) endonucleases (REases). These enzymes constitute virally encoded restriction-modification (R/M) systems. Although several of the chlorovirus R/M systems are characterized, their biological functions are unknown. The PBCV-1 proteome reveals that two virus-encoded REases, but not their companion MTases, are virion associated, suggesting that viral REases might help degrade the host DNA early in infection. To test this hypothesis, host chromosomal DNA from PBCV-1-infected cells was examined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Initiation of host chromosomal DNA degradation occurred within 5 min postinfection (p.i.). The DNA degradation was insensitive to protein synthesis inhibitors or UV inactivation of virus particles, consistent with the agent being a small protein associated with the virion. Nuclease activities, including those of the two predicted REases and an uncharacterized general nuclease(s), were detected in disrupted PBCV-1 particles. The general nuclease(s) degraded both host and viral DNAs in vitro, although the viral DNA was not degraded in vivo, suggesting differential intracellular trafficking of the virion-associated nucleases. Infection with chloroviruses lacking an R/M system(s) resulted in either delayed host chromosomal DNA degradation or no detectable host chromatin changes. These immediate-early events associated with chlorovirus infections may facilitate rapid switching of the host transcriptional apparatus to viral transcription, which begins within 5 to 10 min p.i.
PMCID: PMC1563800  PMID: 16873267
18.  A homology model of restriction endonuclease SfiI in complex with DNA 
Restriction enzymes (REases) are commercial reagents commonly used in recombinant DNA technologies. They are attractive models for studying protein-DNA interactions and valuable targets for protein engineering. They are, however, extremely divergent: the amino acid sequence of a typical REase usually shows no detectable similarities to any other proteins, with rare exceptions of other REases that recognize identical or very similar sequences. From structural analyses and bioinformatics studies it has been learned that some REases belong to at least four unrelated and structurally distinct superfamilies of nucleases, PD-DxK, PLD, HNH, and GIY-YIG. Hence, they are extremely hard targets for structure prediction and homology-based inference of sequence-function relationships and the great majority of REases remain structurally and evolutionarily unclassified.
SfiI is a REase which recognizes the interrupted palindromic sequence 5'GGCCNNNN^NGGCC3' and generates 3 nt long 3' overhangs upon cleavage. SfiI is an archetypal Type IIF enzyme, which functions as a tetramer and cleaves two copies of the recognition site in a concerted manner. Its sequence shows no similarity to other proteins and nothing is known about the localization of its active site or residues important for oligomerization. Using the threading approach for protein fold-recognition, we identified a remote relationship between SfiI and BglI, a dimeric Type IIP restriction enzyme from the PD-DxK superfamily of nucleases, which recognizes the 5'GCCNNNN^NGGC3' sequence and whose structure in complex with the substrate DNA is available. We constructed a homology model of SfiI in complex with its target sequence and used it to predict residues important for dimerization, tetramerization, DNA binding and catalysis.
The bioinformatics analysis suggest that SfiI, a Type IIF enzyme, is more closely related to BglI, an "orthodox" Type IIP restriction enzyme, than to any other REase, including other Type IIF REases with known structures, such as NgoMIV. NgoMIV and BglI belong to two different, very remotely related branches of the PD-DxK superfamily: the α-class (EcoRI-like), and the β-class (EcoRV-like), respectively. Thus, our analysis provides evidence that the ability to tetramerize and cut the two DNA sequences in a concerted manner was developed independently at least two times in the evolution of the PD-DxK superfamily of REases. The model of SfiI will also serve as a convenient platform for further experimental analyses.
PMCID: PMC548270  PMID: 15667656
19.  Real-time kinetics of restriction–modification gene expression after entry into a new host cell 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(8):2581-2593.
Most type II restriction–modification (R–M) systems produce separate restriction endonuclease (REase) and methyltransferase (MTase) proteins. After R–M system genes enter a new cell, protective MTase must appear before REase to avoid host chromosome cleavage. The basis for this apparent temporal regulation is not well understood. PvuII and some other R–M systems appear to achieve this delay by cotranscribing the REase gene with the gene for an autogenous transcription activator/repressor (the ‘C’ protein C.PvuII). To test this model, bacteriophage M13 was used to introduce the PvuII genes into a bacterial population in a relatively synchronous manner. REase mRNA and activity appeared ∼10 min after those of the MTase, but never rose if there was an inactivating pvuIIC mutation. Infection with recombinant M13pvuII phage had little effect on cell growth, relative to infection with parental M13. However, infection of cells pre-expressing C.PvuII led to cessation of growth. This study presents the first direct demonstration of delayed REase expression, relative to MTase, when type II R–M genes enter a new host cell. Surprisingly, though the C and REase genes are cotranscribed, the pvuIIC portion of the mRNA was more abundant than the pvuIIR portion after stable establishment of the R–M system.
PMCID: PMC2377437  PMID: 18334533
20.  Type II restriction endonuclease R.Hpy188I belongs to the GIY-YIG nuclease superfamily, but exhibits an unusual active site 
Catalytic domains of Type II restriction endonucleases (REases) belong to a few unrelated three-dimensional folds. While the PD-(D/E)XK fold is most common among these enzymes, crystal structures have been also determined for single representatives of two other folds: PLD (R.BfiI) and half-pipe (R.PabI). Bioinformatics analyses supported by mutagenesis experiments suggested that some REases belong to the HNH fold (e.g. R.KpnI), and that a small group represented by R.Eco29kI belongs to the GIY-YIG fold. However, for a large fraction of REases with known sequences, the three-dimensional fold and the architecture of the active site remain unknown, mostly due to extreme sequence divergence that hampers detection of homology to enzymes with known folds.
R.Hpy188I is a Type II REase with unknown structure. PSI-BLAST searches of the non-redundant protein sequence database reveal only 1 homolog (R.HpyF17I, with nearly identical amino acid sequence and the same DNA sequence specificity). Standard application of state-of-the-art protein fold-recognition methods failed to predict the relationship of R.Hpy188I to proteins with known structure or to other protein families. In order to increase the amount of evolutionary information in the multiple sequence alignment, we have expanded our sequence database searches to include sequences from metagenomics projects. This search resulted in identification of 23 further members of R.Hpy188I family, both from metagenomics and the non-redundant database. Moreover, fold-recognition analysis of the extended R.Hpy188I family revealed its relationship to the GIY-YIG domain and allowed for computational modeling of the R.Hpy188I structure. Analysis of the R.Hpy188I model in the light of sequence conservation among its homologs revealed an unusual variant of the active site, in which the typical Tyr residue of the YIG half-motif had been substituted by a Lys residue. Moreover, some of its homologs have the otherwise invariant Arg residue in a non-homologous position in sequence that nonetheless allows for spatial conservation of the guanidino group potentially involved in phosphate binding.
The present study eliminates a significant "white spot" on the structural map of REases. It also provides important insight into sequence-structure-function relationships in the GIY-YIG nuclease superfamily. Our results reveal that in the case of proteins with no or few detectable homologs in the standard "non-redundant" database, it is useful to expand this database by adding the metagenomic sequences, which may provide evolutionary linkage to detect more remote homologs.
PMCID: PMC2630997  PMID: 19014591
21.  Type II restriction endonuclease R.Eco29kI is a member of the GIY-YIG nuclease superfamily 
The majority of experimentally determined crystal structures of Type II restriction endonucleases (REases) exhibit a common PD-(D/E)XK fold. Crystal structures have been also determined for single representatives of two other folds: PLD (R.BfiI) and half-pipe (R.PabI), and bioinformatics analyses supported by mutagenesis suggested that some REases belong to the HNH fold. Our previous bioinformatic analysis suggested that REase R.Eco29kI shares sequence similarities with one more unrelated nuclease superfamily, GIY-YIG, however so far no experimental data were available to support this prediction. The determination of a crystal structure of the GIY-YIG domain of homing endonuclease I-TevI provided a template for modeling of R.Eco29kI and prompted us to validate the model experimentally.
Using protein fold-recognition methods we generated a new alignment between R.Eco29kI and I-TevI, which suggested a reassignment of one of the putative catalytic residues. A theoretical model of R.Eco29kI was constructed to illustrate its predicted three-dimensional fold and organization of the active site, comprising amino acid residues Y49, Y76, R104, H108, E142, and N154. A series of mutants was constructed to generate amino acid substitutions of selected residues (Y49A, R104A, H108F, E142A and N154L) and the mutant proteins were examined for their ability to bind the DNA containing the Eco29kI site 5'-CCGCGG-3' and to catalyze the cleavage reaction. Experimental data reveal that residues Y49, R104, E142, H108, and N154 are important for the nuclease activity of R.Eco29kI, while H108 and N154 are also important for specific DNA binding by this enzyme.
Substitutions of residues Y49, R104, H108, E142 and N154 predicted by the model to be a part of the active site lead to mutant proteins with strong defects in the REase activity. These results are in very good agreement with the structural model presented in this work and with our prediction that R.Eco29kI belongs to the GIY-YIG superfamily of nucleases. Our study provides the first experimental evidence for a Type IIP REase that does not belong to the PD-(D/E)XK or HNH superfamilies of nucleases, and is instead a member of the unrelated GIY-YIG superfamily.
PMCID: PMC1952068  PMID: 17626614
22.  Type II restriction endonucleases cleave single-stranded DNAs in general. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1985;13(16):5747-5760.
Restriction endonucleases (13 out of 18 species used for the test) were certified to cleave single-stranded(ss)DNA. Such enzymes as AvaII, HaeII, DdeI, AluI, Sau3AI, AccII,TthHB8I and HapII were newly reported to cleave ssDNA. A model to account for the cleavage of ssDNA by restriction enzymes was proposed with supportive data. The essential part of the model was that restriction enzymes preferentially cleave transiently formed secondary structures (called canonical structures) in ssDNA composed of two recognition sequences with two fold rotational symmetry. This means that a restriction enzyme can cleave ssDNAs in general so far as the DNAs have the sequences of restriction sites for the enzyme, and that the rate of cleavage depends on the stabilities of canonical structures.
PMCID: PMC321909  PMID: 2994012
23.  Tsp49I (ACGT/), a thermostable neoschizomer of the Type II restriction endonuclease MaeII (A/CGT), discovered in isolates of the genus Thermus from the Azores, Iceland and New Zealand. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1996;24(10):1799-1801.
One hundred and forty eight isolates of the genus Thermus, from neutral and alkaline hot water springs on four continents, have been screened for the presence of restriction endonuclease activity. An isolate (SM49) from the island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores, showed a high level of restriction endonuclease activity when a cell-free extract was incubated with lambda phage DNA at 65 degrees C. A Type II restriction endonuclease (Tsp49I) has been partially purified from this isolate and the recognition and cleavage site determined. Tsp49I recognizes the four base sequence ACGT, which is the same as the recognition sequence of the mesophilic Type II restriction endonuclease MaeII. However, unlike MaeII, which cleaves DNA between the first and second bass of the recognition sequence (A/CGT), Tsp49I hydrolyses the phosphodiester bond in both strands of the substrate after the last base of the recognition sequence 5'-ACGT/-3', producing four base 3'-OH overhangs (sticky ends). The enzyme has a pH optimum of 9.0, requires 2 mM MgCl2 for maximum activity and retains full enzyme activity following incubation for 10 min at temperatures up to 8O degrees C. Two further examples of the same restriction endonuclease specificity as Tsp491 were detected in Thermus isolates from Iceland (TspIDSI) and New Zealand (TspWAM8AI). The three MaeII neoschizomers, Tsp49I, TspIDSI and TspWAM8AI, exhibit similar pH optima, heat stabilities and MgCl2 requirements, but differ in their requirements for NaCl and KCl.
PMCID: PMC145888  PMID: 8657557
24.  Regulatory circuit based on autogenous activation-repression: roles of C-boxes and spacer sequences in control of the PvuII restriction-modification system 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(20):6935-6952.
Type II restriction-modification (R-M) systems comprise a restriction endonuclease (REase) and a protective methyltransferase (MTase). After R-M genes enter a new cell, MTase must appear before REase or the chromosome will be cleaved. PvuII and some other R-M systems achieve this delay by cotranscribing the REase gene with the gene for an autogenous transcription activator (the controlling or ‘C’ protein C.PvuII). This study reveals, through in vivo titration, that C.PvuII is not only an activator but also a repressor for its own gene. In other systems, this type of circuit can result in oscillatory behavior. Despite the use of identical, symmetrical C protein-binding sequences (C-boxes) in the left and right operators, C.PvuII showed higher in vitro affinity for OL than for OR, implicating the spacer sequences in this difference. Mutational analysis associated the repression with OR, which overlaps the promoter −35 hexamer but is otherwise dispensable for activation. A nonrepressing mutant exhibited poor establishment in new cells. Comparing promoter-operator regions from PvuII and 29 R-M systems controlled by C proteins revealed that the most-highly conserved sequence is the tetranucleotide spacer separating OL from OR. Any changes in that spacer reduced the stability of C.PvuII-operator complexes and abolished activation.
PMCID: PMC2175313  PMID: 17933763
25.  A second site specific endonuclease from Thermus thermophilus 111, Tth111II. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1980;8(15):3275-3285.
A second site specific endonuclease with novel specificity has been purified from Thermus thermophilus strain 111 and named Tth111II. The enzyme is active at temperature up to 80 degrees C and requires Mg2+ or Mn2+ for endonuclease activity. Tth111II cleaves phi X174RFDNA into 11 fragments and lambda NA into more than 25 fragments. From the 5'-terminal sequences of TthlllII fragments of phi X174RFDNA determined by the two dimensional homochromatography and the survey on nucleotide sequence of phi X174RFDNA, it was concluded that Tth111II recognizes the DNA sequence (see former index) and cleaves the sites as indicated by the arrows.
PMCID: PMC324152  PMID: 6255411

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