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J Bacteriol. 2000 Feb;182(3):607-12.

A thermostable single-strand DNase from Methanococcus jannaschii related to the RecJ recombination and repair exonuclease from Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Biology and Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454-9110, USA.


The RecJ protein of Escherichia coli plays an important role in a number of DNA repair and recombination pathways. RecJ catalyzes processive degradation of single-stranded DNA in a 5'-to-3' direction. Sequences highly related to those encoding RecJ can be found in most of the eubacterial genomes sequenced to date. From alignment of these sequences, seven conserved motifs are apparent. At least five of these motifs are shared among a large family of proteins in eubacteria, eukaryotes, and archaea, including the PPX1 polyphosphatase of yeast and Drosophila Prune. Archaeal genomes are particularly rich in such sequences, but it has not been clear whether any of the encoded proteins play a functional role similar to that of RecJ exonuclease. We have investigated three such proteins from Methanococcus jannaschii with the strongest overall sequence similarity to E. coli RecJ. Two of the genes, MJ0977 and MJ0831, partially complement a recJ mutant phenotype in E. coli. The expression of MJ0977 in E. coli resulted in high levels of a thermostable single-stranded DNase activity with properties similar to those of RecJ exonuclease. Despite overall weak sequence similarity between the MJ0977 product and RecJ, these nucleases are likely to have similar biological functions.

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