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Nucleic Acids Res. Feb 1, 1997; 25(3): 503–511.
PMCID: PMC146478

The HsdR subunit of R.EcoR124II: cloning and over-expression of the gene and unexpected properties of the subunit.

Abstract

Type I restriction endonucleases are composed of three subunits, HsdR, HsdM and HsdS. The HsdR subunit is absolutely required for restriction activity; while an independent methylase is composed of HsdM and HsdS subunits. DNA cleavage is associated with a powerful ATPase activity during which DNA is translocated by the enzyme prior to cleavage. The presence of a Walker type I ATP-binding site within the HsdR subunit suggested that the subunit may be capable of independent enzymatic activity. Therefore, we have, for the first time, cloned and over-expressed the hsdRgene of the type IC restriction endonuclease EcoR124II. The purified HsdR subunit was found to be a soluble monomeric protein capable of DNA- and Mg2+-dependent ATP hydrolysis. The subunit was found to have a weak nuclease activity both in vivo and in vitro, and to bind plasmid DNA; although was not capable of binding a DNA oligoduplex. We were also able to reconstitute the fully active endonuclease from purified M. EcoR124I and HsdR. This is the first clear demonstration that the HsdR subunit of a type I restriction endonuclease is capable of independent enzyme activity, and suggests a mechanism for the evolution of the endonuclease from the independent methylase.

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