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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Nov 1;102(44):15797-802. Epub 2005 Oct 24.

Structure of the metal-independent restriction enzyme BfiI reveals fusion of a specific DNA-binding domain with a nonspecific nuclease.

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  • 1Laboratory of Protein-DNA Interaction, Institute of Biotechnology, Graiciuno 8, LT-02241 Vilnius, Lithuania.


Among all restriction endonucleases known to date, BfiI is unique in cleaving DNA in the absence of metal ions. BfiI represents a different evolutionary lineage of restriction enzymes, as shown by its crystal structure at 1.9-A resolution. The protein consists of two structural domains. The N-terminal catalytic domain is similar to Nuc, an EDTA-resistant nuclease from the phospholipase D superfamily. The C-terminal DNA-binding domain of BfiI exhibits a beta-barrel-like structure very similar to the effector DNA-binding domain of the Mg(2+)-dependent restriction enzyme EcoRII and to the B3-like DNA-binding domain of plant transcription factors. BfiI presumably evolved through domain fusion of a DNA-recognition element to a nonspecific nuclease akin to Nuc and elaborated a mechanism to limit DNA cleavage to a single double-strand break near the specific recognition sequence. The crystal structure suggests that the interdomain linker may act as an autoinhibitor controlling BfiI catalytic activity in the absence of a specific DNA sequence. A psi-blast search identified a BfiI homologue in a Mesorhizobium sp. BNC1 bacteria strain, a plant symbiont isolated from an EDTA-rich environment.

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