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1.  Complementation between inactive fragments of SssI DNA methyltransferase 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:17.
Silencing mammalian genes by targeted DNA (cytosine-5) methylation of selected CG sites in the genome would be a powerful technique to analyze epigenomic information and to study the roles of DNA methylation in physiological and pathological states. A promising approach of targeted DNA methylation is based on the ability of split fragments of a monomeric DNA methyltransferase (C5-MTase) to associate and form active enzyme. A few C5-MTases of different specificities have been shown to possess the ability of fragment complementation, but a demonstration of this phenomenon for a C5-MTase, which has CG specificity and thus can be targeted to methylate any CG site, has been lacking. The purpose of this study was to test whether the CG-specific prokaryotic C5-MTase M.SssI shows the phenomenon of fragment complementation.
We show that truncated inactive N-terminal fragments of M.SssI can assemble with truncated inactive C-terminal fragments to form active enzyme in vivo when produced in the same E. coli cell. Overlapping and non-overlapping fragments as well as fragments containing short appended foreign sequences had complementation capacity. In optimal combinations C-terminal fragments started between conserved motif VIII and the predicted target recognizing domain of M.SssI. DNA methyltransferase activity in crude extracts of cells with the best complementing fragment pairs was ~ 4 per cent of the activity of cells producing the full length enzyme. Fusions of two N-terminal and two C-terminal fragments to 21.6 kDa zinc finger domains only slightly reduced complementation ability of the fragments.
The CG-specific DNA methyltransferase M.SssI shows the phenomenon of fragment complementation in vivo in E. coli. Fusion of the split fragments to six unit zinc finger domains does not substantially interfere with the formation of active enzyme. These observations and the large number of complementing fragment combinations representing a wide range of MTase activity offer the possibility to develop M.SssI into a programmable DNA methyltransferase of high specificity.
PMCID: PMC3404938  PMID: 22646482
SssI DNA methyltransferase; DNA methylation; 5-methylcytosine; Protein fragment complementation; Protein fusion; Zinc finger
2.  BspRI restriction endonuclease: cloning, expression in Escherichia coli and sequential cleavage mechanism 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(20):7155-7166.
The GGCC-specific restriction endonuclease BspRI is one of the few Type IIP restriction endonucleases, which were suggested to be a monomer. Amino acid sequence information obtained by Edman sequencing and mass spectrometry analysis was used to clone the gene encoding BspRI. The bspRIR gene is located adjacently to the gene of the cognate modification methyltransferase and encodes a 304 aa protein. Expression of the bspRIR gene in Escherichia coli was dependent on the replacement of the native TTG initiation codon with an ATG codon, explaining previous failures in cloning the gene using functional selection. A plasmid containing a single BspRI recognition site was used to analyze kinetically nicking and second-strand cleavage under steady-state conditions. Cleavage of the supercoiled plasmid went through a relaxed intermediate indicating sequential hydrolysis of the two strands. Results of the kinetic analysis of the first- and second-strand cleavage are consistent with cutting the double-stranded substrate site in two independent binding events. A database search identified eight putative restriction-modification systems in which the predicted endonucleases as well as the methyltransferases share high sequence similarity with the corresponding protein of the BspRI system. BspRI and the related putative restriction endonucleases belong to the PD-(D/E)XK nuclease superfamily.
PMCID: PMC2978348  PMID: 20587501

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