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Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Oct;41(18):8654-64. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt625. Epub 2013 Jul 18.

Early steps of active DNA demethylation initiated by ROS1 glycosylase require three putative helix-invading residues.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Córdoba/Maimónides Institute for Research in Biomedicine of Córdoba (IMIBIC)/Reina Sofía University Hospital, 14071 Córdoba, Spain.


Active DNA demethylation is crucial for epigenetic control, but the underlying enzymatic mechanisms are incompletely understood. REPRESSOR OF SILENCING 1 (ROS1) is a 5-methylcytosine (5-meC) DNA glycosylase/lyase that initiates DNA demethylation in plants through a base excision repair process. The enzyme binds DNA nonspecifically and slides along the substrate in search of 5-meC. In this work, we have used homology modelling and biochemical analysis to gain insight into the mechanism of target location and recognition by ROS1. We have found that three putative helix-intercalating residues (Q607, R903 and M905) are required for processing of 5-meC:G pairs, but dispensable for excision of mismatched 5-meC. Mutant proteins Q607A, R903A and M905G retain the capacity to process an abasic site opposite G, thus suggesting that all three residues play a critical role in early steps of the base extrusion process and likely contribute to destabilization of 5-meC:G pairs. While R903 and M905 are not essential for DNA binding, mutation of Q607 abrogates stable binding to both methylated and nonmethylated DNA. However, the mutant protein Q607A can form stable complexes with DNA substrates containing blocked ends, which suggests that Q607 intercalates into the helix and inhibits sliding. Altogether, our results suggest that ROS1 uses three predicted helix-invading residues to actively interrogate DNA in search for 5-meC.

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