Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Biochimie. 2002 Nov;84(11):1047-59.

Complex restriction enzymes: NTP-driven molecular motors.

Author information

  • 1Department of Molecular Microbiology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 50-70, Switzerland. aude.bourniquel@unibas.ch


Survival is assuredly the prime directive for all living organisms either as individuals or as a species. One of the main challenges encountered by bacterial populations is the danger of bacteriophage attacks, since infection of a single bacterium may rapidly propagate, decimating the entire population. In order to protect themselves against this acute threat, bacteria have developed an array of defence mechanisms, which range from preventing the infection itself via interference with bacteriophage adsorption to the cell surface and prevention of phage DNA injection, to degradation of the injected phage DNA. This last defence mechanism is catalysed by the bacterial restriction-modification (R-M) systems, and in particular, by nucleoside 5'-triphosphate (NTP)-dependent restriction enzymes, e.g. type I and type III R-M systems or the modification-dependent endonucleases. Type I and type III restriction systems have dual properties. They may either act as methylases and protect the host's own DNA against restriction by methylating specific residues, or they catalyse ATP-dependent endonuclease activity so that invading foreign DNA lacking the host-specific methylation is degraded. These defence mechanism systems are further complemented by the presence of methylation-dependent, GTP-dependent endonucleases, that restricts specifically methylated DNA. Although all three types of endonucleases are structurally very different, they share a common functional mechanism. They recognise and bind to specific DNA sequences but do not cleave DNA within those target sites. They belong to the general class of DNA motor proteins, which use the free energy associated with nucleoside 5'-triphosphate hydrolysis to translocate DNA so that the subsequent DNA cleavage event occurs at a distance from the endonuclease recognition site. Moreover, DNA cleavage appears to be a random process triggered upon stalling of the DNA translocation process and requiring dimerisation of the bound endonucleases for a concerted break of both DNA strands. In this review, we present a detailed description and analysis of the functional mechanism of the three known NTP-dependent restriction systems: type I and type III restriction-modification enzymes, as well as the methylation-dependent McrBC endonuclease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk