The DNA-[N 6-adenine]-methyltransferase (Dam MTase) of phage T4 catalyzes methyl group transfer from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) to the N6-position of adenine in the palindromic sequence, GATC. We have used a gel shift assay to monitor complex formation between T4 Dam and various synthetic duplex oligonucleotides, either native or modified/defective. The results are summarized as follows. (i) T4 Dam bound with approximately 100-fold higher affinity to a 20mer specific (GATC-containing) duplex containing the canonical palindromic methylation sequence, GATC, than to a non-specific duplex containing another palindrome, GTAC. (ii) Compared with the unmethylated duplex, the hemimethylated 20mer specific duplex had a slightly increased ( approximately 2-fold) ability to form complexes with T4 Dam. (iii) No stable complex was formed with a synthetic 12mer specific (GATC-containing) duplex, although T4 Dam can methylate it. This indicates that there is no relation between formation of a catalytically competent 12mer-Dam complex and one stable to gel electrophoresis. (iv) Formation of a stable complex did not require that both strands be contiguous or completely complementary. Absence of a single internucleotide phosphate strongly reduced complex formation only when missing between the T and C residues. This suggests that if T4 Dam makes critical contact(s) with a backbone phosphate(s), then the one between T and C is the only likely candidate. Having only one half of the recognition site intact on one strand was sufficient for stable complex formation provided that the 5'G.C base-pairs be present at both ends of the palindromic, GATC. Since absence of either a G or C abolished T4 Dam binding, we conclude that both strands are recognized by T4 Dam.
Properties of a mutant bacteriophage T2 DNA [N6-adenine] methyltransferase
(T2 Dam MTase) have been investigated for its potential utilization
in RecA-assisted restriction endonuclease (RARE) cleavage. Steady-state
kinetic analyses with oligonucleotide duplexes revealed that, compared
to wild-type T4 Dam, both wild-type T2 Dam and mutant T2 Dam P126S
had a 1.5-fold higher kcat in methylating
canonical GATC sites. Additionally, T2 Dam P126S showed increased efficiencies
in methylation of non-canonical GAY sites relative to the wild-type
enzymes. In agreement with these steady-state kinetic data, when
bacteriophage λ DNA was used as a substrate,
maximal protection from restriction nuclease cleavage in
vitro was achieved on the sequences GATC, GATN and GACY, while
protection of GACR sequences was less efficient. Collectively, our
data suggest that T2 Dam P126S can modify 28 recognition sequences.
The feasibility of using the mutant enzyme in RARE cleavage with BclI and EcoRV endonucleases has been
shown on phage λ DNA and with BclI
and DpnII endonucleases on yeast chromosomal DNA embedded
We have measured steady-state kinetics of the N6-adenine methyltransferase Dam Mtase using as substrates non-selfcomplementary tetradecamer duplexs (d[GCCGGATCTAGACG]-d[CGTCTAGATCC-GGC]) containing the hemimethylated GATC target sequence in one or the other strand and modifications in the GATC target sequence of the complementary strands. Modifications included substitution of guanine by hypoxanthine (I), thymine by uracil (U) or 5-ethyl-uracil (E) and adenine by 2,6-diamino-purine (D). Thermodynamic parameters were obtained from the concentration dependence of the melting temperature (Tm) of the duplexes. Large differences in DNA methylation of duplexes containing single dI for dG substitution of the Dam recognition site were observed compared with the canonical substrate, if the substitution involved the top strand (on the G.C rich side). Substitution in either strand by uracil (dU) or 5-ethyluracil (dE) resulted in small perturbation of the methylation patterns. When 2,6-diamino-purine (dD) replaced the adenine to be methylated, small, but significant methylation was observed. The kinetic parameters of the methylation reaction were compared with the thermodynamic free energies and significant correlation was observed.
The DNA methyltransferase of bacteriophage T4 (T4 Dam MTase) recognizes the palindromic sequence GATC, and catalyzes transfer of the methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) to the N6-position of adenine [generating N6-methyladenine and S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine (AdoHcy)]. Pre-steady state kinetic analysis revealed that the methylation rate constant kmeth for unmethylated and hemimethylated substrates (0.56 and 0.47 s–1, respectively) was at least 20-fold larger than the overall reaction rate constant kcat (0.023 s–1). This indicates that the release of products is the rate-limiting step in the reaction. Destabilization of the target-base pair did not alter the methylation rate, indicating that the rate of target nucleoside flipping does not limit kmeth. Preformed T4 Dam MTase–DNA complexes are less efficient than preformed T4 Dam MTase–AdoMet complexes in the first round of catalysis. Thus, this data is consistent with a preferred route of reaction for T4 Dam MTase in which AdoMet is bound first; this preferred reaction route is not observed with the DNA-[C5-cytosine]-MTases.
The DNA of Serratia marcescens has N6-adenine methylation in GATC sequences. Among 2-aminopurine-sensitive mutants isolated from S. marcescens Sr41, one was identified which lacked GATC methylation. The mutant showed up to 30-fold increased spontaneous mutability and enhanced mutability after treatment with 2-aminopurine, ethyl methanesulfonate, or UV light. The gene (dam) coding for the adenine methyltransferase (Dam enzyme) of S. marcescens was identified on a gene bank plasmid which alleviated the 2-aminopurine sensitivity and the higher mutability of a dam-13::Tn9 mutant of Escherichia coli. Nucleotide sequencing revealed that the deduced amino acid sequence of Dam (270 amino acids; molecular mass, 31.3 kDa) has 72% identity to the Dam enzyme of E. coli. The dam gene is located between flanking genes which are similar to those found to the sides of the E. coli dam gene. The results of complementation studies indicated that like Dam of E. coli and unlike Dam of Vibrio cholerae, the Dam enzyme of S. marcescens plays an important role in mutation avoidance by allowing the mismatch repair enzymes to discriminate between the parental and newly synthesized strands during correction of replication errors.
Bacteriophage T4 codes for a DNA-[N6-adenine] methyltransferase (Dam) which recognizes primarily the sequence GATC in both cytosine- and hydroxymethylcytosine-containing DNA. Hypermethylating mutants, damh, exhibit a relaxation in sequence specificity, that is, they are readily able to methylate non-canonical sites. We have determined that the damh mutation produces a single amino acid change (Pro126 to Ser126) in a region of homology (III) shared by three DNA-adenine methyltransferases; viz, T4 Dam, Escherichia coli Dam, and the DpnII modification enzyme of Streptococcus pneumoniae. We also describe another mutant, damc, which methylates GATC in cytosine-containing DNA, but not in hydroxymethylcytosine-containing DNA. This mutation also alters a single amino acid (Phe127 to Val127). These results implicate homology region III as a domain involved in DNA sequence recognition. The effect of several different amino acids at residue 126 was examined by creating a polypeptide chain terminating codon at that position and comparing the methylation capability of partially purified enzymes produced in the presence of various suppressors. No enzyme activity is detected when phenylalanine, glutamic acid, or histidine is inserted at position 126. However, insertion of alanine, cysteine, or glycine at residue 126 produces enzymatic activity similar to Damh.
Two DNA methylase activities of Escherichia coli C, the mec (designates DNA-cytosine-methylase gene, which is also designated dcm) and dam gene products, were physically separated by DEAE-cellulose column chromatography. The sequence and substrate specificity of the two enzymes were studied in vitro. The experiments revealed that both enzymes show their expected sequence specificity under in vitro conditions, methylating symmetrically on both DNA strands. The mec enzyme methylates exclusively the internal cytosine residue of CCATGG sequences, and the dam enzyme methylates adenine residues at GATC sites. Substrate specificity experiments revealed that both enzymes methylate in vitro unmethylated duplex DNA as efficiently as hemimethylated DNA. The results of these experiments suggest that the methylation at a specific site takes place by two independent events. A methyl group in a site on one strand of the DNA does not facilitate the methylation of the same site on the opposite strand. With the dam methylase it was found that the enzyme is incapable of methylating GATC sites located at the ends of DNA molecules.
Most of the adenine residues in GATC sequences in the Escherichia coli chromosome are methylated by the enzyme deoxyadenosine methyltransferase (Dam). However, at least 20 GATC sequences remain nonmethylated throughout the cell cycle. Here we examined how the DNA methylation patterns of GATC sequences within the regulatory regions of the pyelonephritis-associated pilus (pap) operon and the glucitol utilization (gut) operon were formed. The results obtained with an in vitro methylation protection assay showed that the addition of the leucine-responsive regulatory protein (Lrp) to pap DNA was sufficient to protect the two GATC sequences in the pap regulatory region, GATC-I and GATC-II, from methylation by Dam. This finding was consistent with previously published data showing that Lrp was essential for methylation protection of these DNA sites in vivo. Methylation protection also occurred at a GATC site (GATC-44.5) centered 44.5 bp upstream of the transcription start site of the gutABD operon. Two proteins, GutR and the catabolite gene activator protein (CAP), bound to DNA sites overlapping the GATC-44.5-containing region of the gutABD operon. GutR, an operon-specific repressor, was essential for methylation protection in vivo, and binding of GutR protected GATC-44.5 from methylation in vitro. In contrast, binding of CAP at a site overlapping GATC-44.5 did not protect this site from methylation. Mutational analyses indicated that gutABD gene regulation was not controlled by methylation of GATC-44.5, in contrast to regulation of Pap pilus expression, which is directly controlled by methylation of the pap GATC-I and GATC-II sites.
Bacteriophage T2 codes for a DNA-(adenine-N6)methyltransferase (Dam), which is able to methylate both cytosine- and hydroxymethylcytosine-containing DNAs to a greater extent than the corresponding methyltransferase encoded by bacteriophage T4. We have cloned and sequenced the T2 dam gene and compared it with the T4 dam gene. In the Dam coding region, there are 22 nucleotide differences, 4 of which result in three coding differences (2 are in the same codon). Two of the amino acid alterations are located in a region of homology that is shared by T2 and T4 Dam, Escherichia coli Dam, and the modification enzyme of Streptococcus pneumoniae, all of which methylate the sequence 5' GATC 3'. The T2 dam and T4 dam promoters are not identical and appear to have slightly different efficiencies; when fused to the E. coli lacZ gene, the T4 promoter produces about twofold more beta-galactosidase activity than does the T2 promoter. In our first attempt to isolate T2 dam, a truncated gene was cloned on a 1.67-kilobase XbaI fragment. This construct produces a chimeric protein composed of the first 163 amino acids of T2 Dam followed by 83 amino acids coded by the pUC18 vector. Surprisingly, the chimera has Dam activity, but only on cytosine-containing DNA. Genetic and physical analyses place the T2 dam gene at the same respective map location as the T4 dam gene. However, relative to T4, T2 contains an insertion of 536 base pairs 5' to the dam gene. Southern blot hybridization and computer analysis failed to reveal any homology between this insert and either T4 or E. coli DNA.
The Escherichia coli DNA adenine methylase (dam) gene has been introduced into Saccharomyces cerevisiae on a yeast-E. coli shuttle vector. Sau3AI, MboI, and DpnI restriction enzyme digests and Southern hybridization analysis indicated that the dam gene is expressed in yeast cells and methylates GATC sequences. Analysis of digests of total genomic DNA indicated that some GATC sites are not sensitive to methylation. The failure to methylate may reflect an inaccessibility to the methylase due to chromosome structure. The effects of this in vivo methylation on the processes of recombination and mutation in mitotic cells were determined. A small but definite general increase was found in the frequency of mitotic recombination. A similar increase was observed for reversion of some auxotrophic markers; other markers demonstrated a small decrease in mutation frequency. The effects on mutation appear to be locus (or allele) specific. Recombination in meiotic cells was measured and was not detectably altered by the presence of 6-methyladenine in GATC sequences.
DNA of Escherichia coli virus T1 is resistant to MboI cleavage and appears to be heavily methylated. Analysis of methylation by the isoschizomeric restriction enzymes Sau3AI and DpnI revealed that recognition sites for E. coli DNA adenine methylase (dam methylase) are methylated. The same methylation pattern was found for virus T1 DNA grown on an E. coli dam host, indicating a T1-specific DNA methyltransferase.
Bacteriophages T2 and T4 encode DNA-[N6-adenine] methyltransferases (Dam) which differ from each other by only three amino acids. The canonical recognition sequence for these enzymes in both cytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine-containing DNA is GATC; at a lower efficiency they also recognize some non-canonical sites in sequences derived from GAY (where Y is cytosine or thymine). We found that T4 Dam fails to methylate certain GATA and GATT sequences which are methylated by T2 Dam. This indicates that T2 Dam and T4 Dam do not have identical sequence specificities. We analyzed DNA sequence data files obtained from GenBank, containing about 30% of the T4 genome, to estimate the overall frequency of occurrence of GATC, as well as non-canonical sites derived from GAY. The observed N6methyladenine (m6A) content of T4 DNA, methylated exclusively at GATC (by Escherichia coli Dam), was found to be in good agreement with this estimate. Although GATC is fully methylated in virion DNA, only a small percentage of the non-canonical sequences are methylated.
The interaction of the phage T4 Dam DNA-[N6-adenine] methyltransferase with 24mer synthetic oligonucleotide duplexes having different purine base substitutions in the palindromic recognition sequence, GATC, was investigated by means of gel shift and methyl transfer assays. The substitutions were introduced in either the upper or lower strand: guanine by 7-deazaguanine (G-->D) or 2-aminopurine (G-->N) and target adenine by purine (A-->P) or 2-aminopurine (A-->N). The effects of each base modification on binding/methylation were approximately equivalent for both strands. G-->D and G-->N substitutions resulted in a sharp decrease in binary complex formation. This suggests that T4 Dam makes hydrogen bonds with either the N7- or O6-keto groups (or both) in forming the complex. In contrast, A-->P and A-->N substitutions were much more tolerant for complex formation. This confirms our earlier observations that the presence of intact 5'-G:C base pairs at both ends of the methylation site is critical, but that base substitutions within the central A:T base pairs show less inhibition of complex formation. Addition of T4 Dam to a complete substrate mixture resulted in a burst of [3H]methylated product. In all cases the substrate dependencies of bursts and methylation rates were proportional to each other. For the perfect 24mer k cat = 0.014/s and K m = 7.7 nM was obtained. In contrast to binary complex formation the two guanine substitutions exerted relatively minor effects on catalytic turnover (the k cat was reduced at most 2. 5-fold), while the two adenine substitutions showed stronger effects (5- to 15-fold reduction in k cat). The effects of base analog substitutions on K m(DNA) were more variable: A-->P (decreased); A-->N and G-->D (unchanged); G-->N (increased).
We have investigated the occurrence of methylated adenine residues in the macronuclear ribosomal RNA genes of Tetrahymena thermophila. It has been shown previously that macronuclear DNA, including the palindromic ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA), of Tetrahymena thermophila contains the modified base N-6-methyladenine, but no 5-methylcytosine. Purified rDNA was digested with restriction enzymes Sau 3AI, MboI and DpnI to map the positions and levels of N-6-methyladenine in the sequence 5' GATC 3'. A specific pattern of doubly methylated GATC sequences was found; hemimethylated sites were not detected. The patterns and levels of methylation of these sites did not change significantly in different physiological states. A molecular form of the rDNA found in the newly developing macronucleus and for several generations following the sexual process, conjugation, contained no detectably methylated GATC sites. However, both the bulk macronuclear DNA and palindromic rDNA from the same macronuclei were methylated. Possible roles for N-6-methyladenine in macronuclear DNA are discussed in light of these findings.
DNA methyltransferases methylate target bases within specific nucleotide sequences. Three structures are described for bacteriophage T4 DNA-adenine methyltransferase (T4Dam) in ternary complexes with partially and fully specific DNA and a methyl-donor analog. We also report the effects of substitutions in the related Escherichia coli DNA methyltransferase (EcoDam), altering residues corresponding to those involved in specific interaction with the canonical GATC target sequence in T4Dam. We have identified two types of protein-DNA interactions: discriminatory contacts, which stabilize the transition state and accelerate methylation of the cognate site, and anti-discriminatory contacts, which do not significantly affect methylation of the cognate site but disfavor activity at noncognate sites. These structures illustrate the transition in enzyme-DNA interaction from nonspecific to specific interaction, suggesting that there is a temporal order for formation of specific contacts.
The phage T4Dam and EcoDam DNA-[adenine-N6] methyltransferases (MTases) methylate GATC palindromic sequences, while the BamHI DNA-[cytosine-N4] MTase methylates the GGATCC palindrome (which contains GATC) at the internal cytosine residue. We compared the ability of these enzymes to interact productively with defective duplexes in which individual elements were deleted on one chain. A sharp decrease in kcat was observed for all three enzymes if a particular element of structural symmetry was disrupted. For the BamHI MTase, integrity of the ATCC was critical, while an intact GAT sequence was necessary for the activity of T4Dam, and an intact GA was necessary for EcoDam. Theoretical alignment of the region of best contacts between the protein and DNA showed that in the case of a palindromic interaction site, a zone covering the 5′-symmetric residues is located in the major groove versus a zone of contact covering the 3′-symmetric residues in the minor groove. Our data fit a simple rule of thumb that the most important contacts are aligned around the methylation target base: if the target base is in the 5′ half of the palindrome, the interaction between the enzyme and the DNA occurs mainly in the major groove; if it is in the 3′ half, the interaction occurs mainly in the minor groove.
N6-methyl-adenine is found in the genomes of bacteria, archaea, protists, and fungi. Most bacterial DNA adenine methyltransferases are part of restriction-modification systems. In addition, certain groups of Proteobacteria harbor solitary DNA adenine methyltransferases that provide signals for DNA-protein interactions. In γ-Proteobacteria, Dam methylation regulates chromosome replication, nucleoid segregation, DNA repair, transposition of insertion elements, and transcription of specific genes. In Salmonella, Haemophilus, Yersinia, Vibrio, and pathogenic E. coli, Dam methylation is required for virulence. In α-Proteobacteria, CcrM methylation regulates the cell cycle in Caulobacter, Rhizobium, and Agrobacterium, and plays a role in Brucella abortus infection.
Adenine; analogs & derivatives; metabolism; physiology; Bacteria; genetics; metabolism; pathogenicity; Bacterial Proteins; metabolism; Cell Cycle; Chromosomes, Bacterial; metabolism; DNA Methylation; DNA Repair; DNA, Bacterial; genetics; metabolism; Epigenesis, Genetic; Genes, Bacterial; genetics; Mutagenesis, Insertional; Proteobacteria; genetics; physiology; Site-Specific DNA-Methyltransferase (Adenine-Specific); genetics; metabolism; Transcription, Genetic
The methylations of adenine in the sequence —GATC— and of the second cytosine in the sequence — [Formula: see text] — were studied in Salmonella typhimurium and in Salmonella typhi. The study was carried out by using endonucleases which restrict the plasmid pBR322 by cleavage at the sequences —GATC— (DpnI and MboI) and — [Formula: see text] — (EcoRII). The restriction patterns obtained for this plasmid isolated from transformed S. typhimurium and S. typhi were compared with those of pBR322 isolated from Escherichia coli K-12. In E. coli K-12, adenines at the sequence —GATC— and the second cytosines at — [Formula: see text] — are met hylated by enzymes coded for by the genes dam and dem, respectively. From comparison of the restriction patterns obtained, it is concluded that S. typhimurium and S. typhi contain genes responsible for deoxyribonucleic acid methylation equivalent to E. coli K-12 genes dam and dcm.
The bacteriophage T2 and T4 dam genes code for a DNA (N6-adenine)methyltransferase (MTase). Nonglucosylated, hydroxymethylcytosine-containing T2gt- virion DNA has a higher level of methylation than T4gt- virion DNA does. To investigate the basis for this difference, we compared the intracellular enzyme levels following phage infection as well as the in vitro intrinsic methylation capabilities of purified T2 and T4 Dam MTases. Results from Western blotting (immunoblotting) showed that the same amounts of MTase protein were produced after infection with T2 and T4. Kinetic analyses with purified homogeneous enzymes showed that the two MTases had similar Km values for the methyl donor, S-adenosyl-L-methionine, and for substrate DNA. In contrast, they had different k(cat) values (twofold higher for T2 Dam MTase). We suggest that this difference can account for the ability of T2 Dam to methylate viral DNA in vivo to a higher level than does T4 Dam. Since the T2 and T4 MTases differ at only three amino acid residues (at positions 20 [T4, Ser; T2, Pro], 26 [T4, Asn; T2, Asp], and 188 [T4, Asp; T2, Glu]), we have produced hybrid proteins to determine which residue(s) is responsible for increased catalytic activity. The results of these analyses showed that the residues at positions 20 and 26 are responsible for the different k(cat) values of the two MTases for both canonical and noncanonical sites. Moreover, a single substitution of either residue 20 or 26 was sufficient to increase the k(cat) of T4 Dam.
We have examined the presence of methylated adenine at GATC sequences (Dam phenotype) in the DNA of 23 eubacteria and 13 archaebacteria by using isoshizomer restriction enzymes. We have found a completely Dam+ phenotype in bacteria of nine genera related to the families Enterobacteriaceae, Parvobacteriaceae, and Vibrionaceae, and in the five cyanobacteria tested. We have found a partial Dam+ phenotype in the two archaebacteria Halobacterium saccharovorum and Methanobacterium sp. strain Ivanov. All of the other archaebacteria (three genera) and eubacteria (nine genera) tested were Dam-. Phylogenetic analysis, based on the evolutionary tree of Fox et al. (Science 209:457-463, 1980), indicates that dam methylation in the Escherichia coli lineage appeared recently in bacterial evolution and is restricted to a small range of closely related bacteria.
A gene from the periodontal organism Porphyromonas gingivalis has been identified as encoding a DNA methylase. The gene, referred to as pgiIM, has been sequenced and found to contain a reading frame of 864 basepairs. The putative amino acid sequence of the encoded methylase was 288 amino acids, and shared 47% and 31% homology with the Streptococcus pneumoniae DpnII and E. coli Dam methylases, respectively. The activity and specificity of the pgi methylase (M.PgiI) was confirmed by cloning the gene into a dam- strain of E. coli (JM110) and performing a restriction analysis on the isolated DNA with enzymes whose activities depended upon the methylation state of the DNA. The data indicated that M.PgiI, like DpnII and Dam, methylated the adenine residue within the sequence 5'-GATC-3'.
The DNAs of strains of three cyanobacterial genera (Anabaena, Plectonema, and Synechococcus) were found to be partially or fully resistant to many restriction endonucleases. This could be due to the absence of specific sequences or to modifications, rendering given sequences resistant to cleavage. The latter explanation is substantiated by the content of N6-methyladenine and 5-methylcytosine in these genomes, which is high in comparison with that in other bacterial genomes. dcm- and dam-like methylases are present in the three strains (based on the restriction patterns obtained with the appropriate isoschizomeric enzymes). Their contribution to the overall content of methyladenine and methylcytosine in the genomes was calculated. Partial methylation of GATC sequences was observed in Anabaena DNA. In addition, the GATC methylation patterns might not have been random in the three cyanobacterial DNA preparations, as revealed by the appearance of discrete fragments (possibly of plasmid origin) withstanding cleavage by DpnI (which requires the presence of methyladenine in the GATC sequence).
DNA methylation by the DNA adenine methyltransferase (Dam) interferes with the coordinated expression of virulence functions in an increasing number of pathogens. While analyzing the effect of Dam on the virulence of the human pathogen Yersinia enterocolitica, we observed type III secretion of Yop effector proteins under nonpermissive conditions. Dam alters the Ca2+ regulation of Yop secretion but does not affect the temperature regulation of Yop/Ysc expression. The phenotype is different from that of classical “Ca2+-blind” mutants of Yersinia, as Dam-overproducing (DamOP) strains still translocate Yops polarly into eukaryotic cells. Although transcription of the lcrGV and yopN-tyeA operons is slightly upregulated, LcrG is absent from lysates of DamOP bacteria, while the amounts of YopN and TyeA are not changed. We present evidence that clpXP expression increases after Dam overproduction and that the ClpP protease then degrades LcrG, thereby releasing a block in type III secretion. This is the first example of posttranslational regulation of type III secretion by the Clp protease and adds a new flavor to the complex regulatory mechanisms underlying the controlled release of effector proteins from bacterial cells.
The distribution of the methylatable sites GATC and CCATGG was studied by analyzing the molecular average size of restriction fragments of E. coli DNA. Both sites were found to be randomly distributed, reflecting a random pattern of methylation. The methylation pattern of specific sequences such as the origin of replication and rRNA genes has been studied in wild type E. coli and a methylation deficient (dam- dcm-) mutant. These sequences were found to be methylated in wild type cells and unmethylated in the mutant indicating that there is no effect of the state of methylation of these sequences on their expression. Analysis of the state of methylation of GATC sites in newly replicating DNA using the restriction enzyme Dpn I (cleaves only when both strands are methylated) revealed no detectable hemimethylated DNA suggesting that methylation occurs at the replication fork. Taking together the results presented here and previously published data (5), we arrive at the conclusion that the most likely function of E. coli DNA methylations is probably in preventing nuclease activity.
The fluorescence of 2-aminopurine (2A)-substituted duplexes
(contained in the GATC target site) was investigated by titration
with T4 Dam DNA-(N6-adenine)-methyltransferase.
With an unmethylated target (2A/A duplex) or
its methylated derivative (2A/mA duplex),
T4 Dam produced up to a 50-fold increase in fluorescence, consistent
with 2A being flipped out of the DNA helix. Though neither S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine nor
sinefungin had any significant effect, addition of substrate S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) sharply reduced the Dam-induced
fluorescence with these complexes. In contrast, AdoMet had no effect on
the fluorescence increase produced with an 2A/2A double-substituted
duplex. Since the 2A/mA duplex cannot
be methylated, the AdoMet-induced decrease in fluorescence cannot
be due to methylation per se. We propose that T4
Dam alone randomly binds to the asymmetric 2A/A
and 2A/mA duplexes, and that AdoMet
induces an allosteric T4 Dam conformational change that promotes
reorientation of the enzyme to the strand containing the native
base. Thus, AdoMet increases enzyme binding-specificity, in addition
to serving as the methyl donor. The results of pre-steady-state
methylation kinetics are consistent with this model.