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Structure. 1999 Jan 15;7(1):35-42.

Structure of the adenylation domain of an NAD+-dependent DNA ligase.

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  • 1Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, South ParksRoad, Oxford OX1 3RE, UK.



DNA ligases catalyse phosphodiester bond formation between adjacent bases in nicked DNA, thereby sealing the nick. A key step in the catalytic mechanism is the formation of an adenylated DNA intermediate. The adenyl group is derived from either ATP (in eucaryotes and archaea) or NAD+4 (in bacteria). This difference in cofactor specificity suggests that DNA ligase may be a useful antibiotic target.


The crystal structure of the adenylation domain of the NAD+-dependent DNA ligase from Bacillus stearothermophilus has been determined at 2.8 A resolution. Despite a complete lack of detectable sequence similarity, the fold of the central core of this domain shares homology with the equivalent region of ATP-dependent DNA ligases, providing strong evidence for the location of the NAD+-binding site.


Comparison of the structure of the NAD+4-dependent DNA ligase with that of ATP-dependent ligases and mRNA-capping enzymes demonstrates the manifold utilisation of a conserved nucleotidyltransferase domain within this family of enzymes. Whilst this conserved core domain retains a common mode of nucleotide binding and activation, it is the additional domains at the N terminus and/or the C terminus that provide the alternative specificities and functionalities in the different members of this enzyme superfamily.

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