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EMBO J. 1999 Dec 15;18(24):6908-16.

The monomeric homing endonuclease PI-SceI has two catalytic centres for cleavage of the two strands of its DNA substrate.

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  • 1Institut für Biochemie, Fachbereich Biologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 58, D-35392 Giessen, Germany.


The monomeric homing endonuclease PI-SceI cleaves the two strands of its DNA substrate in a concerted manner, which raises the question of whether this enzyme harbours one or two catalytic centres. If PI-SceI has only one catalytic centre, one would expect that cross-linking enzyme and substrate should prevent reorientation of the enzyme required to perform the second cut after having made the first cut: PI-SceI, however, when cross-linked to its substrate, is able to cleave both DNA strands. If PI-SceI has two catalytic centres, one would expect that it should be possible to inactivate one catalytic centre by mutation and obtain a variant with preference for a substrate nicked in one strand; such variants have been found. The structural homology between the catalytic domain of PI-SceI having a pseudo 2-fold symmetry, and I-CreI, a homodimeric homing endonuclease, suggests that in PI-SceI active site I, which attacks the top strand, comprises Asp218, Asp229 and Lys403, while Asp326, Thr341 and Lys301 make up active site II, which cleaves the bottom strand. Cleavage experiments with modified oligodeoxynucleotides and metal ion mapping experiments demonstrate that PI-SceI interacts differently with the two strands at the cleavage position, supporting a model of two catalytic centres.

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