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1.  MODOMICS: a database of RNA modification pathways 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;34(Database issue):D145-D149.
MODOMICS is the first comprehensive database resource for systems biology of RNA modification. It integrates information about the chemical structure of modified nucleosides, their localization in RNA sequences, pathways of their biosynthesis and enzymes that carry out the respective reactions. MODOMICS also provides literature information, and links to other databases, including the available protein sequence and structure data. The current list of modifications and pathways is comprehensive, while the dataset of enzymes is limited to Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae and sequence alignments are presented only for tRNAs from these organisms. RNAs and enzymes from other organisms will be included in the near future. MODOMICS can be queried by the type of nucleoside (e.g. A, G, C, U, I, m1A, nm5s2U, etc.), type of RNA, position of a particular nucleoside, type of reaction (e.g. methylation, thiolation, deamination, etc.) and name or sequence of an enzyme of interest. Options for data presentation include graphs of pathways involving the query nucleoside, multiple sequence alignments of RNA sequences and tabular forms with enzyme and literature data. The contents of MODOMICS can be accessed through the World Wide Web at .
PMCID: PMC1347447  PMID: 16381833
2.  Discovery of a novel restriction endonuclease by genome comparison and application of a wheat-germ-based cell-free translation assay: PabI (5′-GTA/C) from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus abyssi 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(13):e112.
To search for restriction endonucleases, we used a novel plant-based cell-free translation procedure that bypasses the toxicity of these enzymes. To identify candidate genes, the related genomes of the hyperthermophilic archaea Pyrococcus abyssi and Pyrococcus horikoshii were compared. In line with the selfish mobile gene hypothesis for restriction–modification systems, apparent genome rearrangement around putative restriction genes served as a selecting criterion. Several candidate restriction genes were identified and then amplified in such a way that they were removed from their own translation signal. During their cloning into a plasmid, the genes became connected with a plant translation signal. After in vitro transcription by T7 RNA polymerase, the mRNAs were separated from the template DNA and translated in a wheat-germ-based cell-free protein synthesis system. The resulting solution could be directly assayed for restriction activity. We identified two deoxyribonucleases. The novel enzyme was denoted as PabI, purified and found to recognize 5′-GTAC and leave a 3′-TA overhang (5′-GTA/C), a novel restriction enzyme-generated terminus. PabI is active up to 90°C and optimally active at a pH of around 6 and in NaCl concentrations ranging from 100 to 200 mM. We predict that it has a novel 3D structure.
PMCID: PMC1178009  PMID: 16040595
3.  The PD-(D/E)XK superfamily revisited: identification of new members among proteins involved in DNA metabolism and functional predictions for domains of (hitherto) unknown function 
BMC Bioinformatics  2005;6:172.
The PD-(D/E)XK nuclease superfamily, initially identified in type II restriction endonucleases and later in many enzymes involved in DNA recombination and repair, is one of the most challenging targets for protein sequence analysis and structure prediction. Typically, the sequence similarity between these proteins is so low, that most of the relationships between known members of the PD-(D/E)XK superfamily were identified only after the corresponding structures were determined experimentally. Thus, it is tempting to speculate that among the uncharacterized protein families, there are potential nucleases that remain to be discovered, but their identification requires more sensitive tools than traditional PSI-BLAST searches.
The low degree of amino acid conservation hampers the possibility of identification of new members of the PD-(D/E)XK superfamily based solely on sequence comparisons to known members. Therefore, we used a recently developed method HHsearch for sensitive detection of remote similarities between protein families represented as profile Hidden Markov Models enhanced by secondary structure. We carried out a comparison of known families of PD-(D/E)XK nucleases to the database comprising the COG and PFAM profiles corresponding to both functionally characterized as well as uncharacterized protein families to detect significant similarities. The initial candidates for new nucleases were subsequently verified by sequence-structure threading, comparative modeling, and identification of potential active site residues.
In this article, we report identification of the PD-(D/E)XK nuclease domain in numerous proteins implicated in interactions with DNA but with unknown structure and mechanism of action (such as putative recombinase RmuC, DNA competence factor CoiA, a DNA-binding protein SfsA, a large human protein predicted to be a DNA repair enzyme, predicted archaeal transcription regulators, and the head completion protein of phage T4) and in proteins for which no function was assigned to date (such as YhcG, various phage proteins, novel candidates for restriction enzymes). Our results contributes to the reduction of "white spaces" on the sequence-structure-function map of the protein universe and will help to jump-start the experimental characterization of new nucleases, of which many may be of importance for the complete understanding of mechanisms that govern the evolution and stability of the genome.
PMCID: PMC1189080  PMID: 16011798
4.  Trm11p and Trm112p Are both Required for the Formation of 2-Methylguanosine at Position 10 in Yeast tRNA†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(11):4359-4370.
N2-Monomethylguanosine-10 (m2G10) and N2,N2-dimethylguanosine-26 (m22G26) are the only two guanosine modifications that have been detected in tRNA from nearly all archaea and eukaryotes but not in bacteria. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, formation of m22G26 is catalyzed by Trm1p, and we report here the identification of the enzymatic activity that catalyzes the formation of m2G10 in yeast tRNA. It is composed of at least two subunits that are associated in vivo: Trm11p (Yol124c), which is the catalytic subunit, and Trm112p (Ynr046w), a putative zinc-binding protein. While deletion of TRM11 has no detectable phenotype under laboratory conditions, deletion of TRM112 leads to a severe growth defect, suggesting that it has additional functions in the cell. Indeed, Trm112p is associated with at least four proteins: two tRNA methyltransferases (Trm9p and Trm11p), one putative protein methyltransferase (Mtc6p/Ydr140w), and one protein with a Rossmann fold dehydrogenase domain (Lys9p/Ynr050c). In addition, TRM11 interacts genetically with TRM1, thus suggesting that the absence of m2G10 and m22G26 affects tRNA metabolism or functioning.
PMCID: PMC1140639  PMID: 15899842
5.  Identification of a new family of putative PD-(D/E)XK nucleases with unusual phylogenomic distribution and a new type of the active site 
BMC Genomics  2005;6:21.
Prediction of structure and function for uncharacterized protein families by identification of evolutionary links to characterized families and known structures is one of the cornerstones of genomics. Theoretical assignment of three-dimensional folds and prediction of protein function even at a very general level can facilitate the experimental determination of the molecular mechanism of action and the role that members of a given protein family fulfill in the cell. Here, we predict the three-dimensional fold and study the phylogenomic distribution of members of a large family of uncharacterized proteins classified in the Clusters of Orthologous Groups database as COG4636.
Using protein fold-recognition we found that members of COG4636 are remotely related to Holliday junction resolvases and other nucleases from the PD-(D/E)XK superfamily. Structure modeling and sequence analyses suggest that most members of COG4636 exhibit a new, unusual variant of the putative active site, in which the catalytic Lys residue migrated in the sequence, but retained similar spatial position with respect to other functionally important residues. Sequence analyses revealed that members of COG4636 and their homologs are found mainly in Cyanobacteria, but also in other bacterial phyla. They undergo horizontal transfer and extensive proliferation in the colonized genomes; for instance in Gloeobacter violaceus PCC 7421 they comprise over 2% of all protein-encoding genes. Thus, members of COG4636 appear to be a new type of selfish genetic elements, which may fulfill an important role in the genome dynamics of Cyanobacteria and other species they invaded. Our analyses provide a platform for experimental determination of the molecular and cellular function of members of this large protein family.
After submission of this manuscript, a crystal structure of one of the COG4636 members was released in the Protein Data Bank (code 1wdj; Idaka, M., Wada, T., Murayama, K., Terada, T., Kuramitsu, S., Shirouzu, M., Yokoyama, S.: Crystal structure of Tt1808 from Thermus thermophilus Hb8, to be published). Our analysis of the Tt1808 structure reveals that we correctly predicted all functionally important features of the COG4636 family, including the membership in the PD-(D/E)xK superfamily of nucleases, the three-dimensional fold, the putative catalytic residues, and the unusual configuration of the active site.
PMCID: PMC551604  PMID: 15720711
6.  Inference of relationships in the ‘twilight zone’ of homology using a combination of bioinformatics and site-directed mutagenesis: a case study of restriction endonucleases Bsp6I and PvuII 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(2):661-671.
Thus far, identification of functionally important residues in Type II restriction endonucleases (REases) has been difficult using conventional methods. Even though known REase structures share a fold and marginally recognizable active site, the overall sequence similarities are statistically insignificant, unless compared among proteins that recognize identical or very similar sequences. Bsp6I is a Type II REase, which recognizes the palindromic DNA sequence 5′GCNGC and cleaves between the cytosine and the unspecified nucleotide in both strands, generating a double-strand break with 5′-protruding single nucleotides. There are no solved structures of REases that recognize similar DNA targets or generate cleavage products with similar characteristics. In straightforward comparisons, the Bsp6I sequence shows no significant similarity to REases with known structures. However, using a fold-recognition approach, we have identified a remote relationship between Bsp6I and the structure of PvuII. Starting from the sequence–structure alignment between Bsp6I and PvuII, we constructed a homology model of Bsp6I and used it to predict functionally significant regions in Bsp6I. The homology model was supported by site-directed mutagenesis of residues predicted to be important for dimerization, DNA binding and catalysis. Completing the picture of sequence–structure–function relationships in protein superfamilies becomes an essential task in the age of structural genomics and our study may serve as a paradigm for future analyses of superfamilies comprising strongly diverged members with little or no sequence similarity.
PMCID: PMC548357  PMID: 15684412
7.  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

Results 1-7 (7)