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J Biol Chem. 1998 Nov 13;273(46):30524-9.

Identification of Lys-403 in the PI-SceI homing endonuclease as part of a symmetric catalytic center.

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  • 1Center for Macromolecular Design, Institute of Biosciences and Technology and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Texas A & M University, Houston, Texas 77030, USA. fgimble@ibt.tamu.edu


Superposition of the PI-SceI and I-CreI homing endonuclease three-dimensional x-ray structures indicates general similarity between the I-CreI homodimer and the PI-SceI endonuclease domain. Saddle-shaped structures are present in each protein that are proposed to bind DNA. At the putative endonucleolytic active sites, the superposition reveals that two lysine (Lys-301 and Lys-403 in PI-SceI and Lys-98 and Lys-98' in I-CreI) and two aspartic acid residues (Asp-218 and Asp-326 in PI-SceI and Asp-20 and Asp-20' in I-CreI) are related by 2-fold symmetry. The critical role of Lys-301, Asp-218, and Asp-326 in the PI-SceI reaction pathway was reported previously. Here, we demonstrate the significance of the active-site symmetry by showing that alanine substitution at Lys-403 reduces cleavage activity by greater than 50-fold but has little effect on the DNA binding activity of the mutant enzyme. Substitution of Lys-403 with arginine, which maintains the positive charge, has only a modest effect on activity. Interestingly, even though the Lys-301 and Lys-403 residues display pseudosymmetry, PI-SceI mutant proteins with substitutions at these positions have different behaviors. The presence of similar basic and acidic residues in many LAGLIDADG homing endonucleases suggests that these enzymes use a common reaction mechanism to cleave double-stranded DNA.

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