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Nucleic Acids Res. 2005 Nov 1;33(19):6225-34. Print 2005.

A single catalytic domain of the junction-resolving enzyme T7 endonuclease I is a non-specific nicking endonuclease.

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New England Biolabs, Inc. 240 County Road, Ipswich, MA 01938, USA.


A stable heterodimeric protein containing a single correctly folded catalytic domain (SCD) of T7 endonuclease I was produced by means of a trans-splicing intein system. As predicted by a model presented earlier, purified SCD protein acts a non-specific nicking endonuclease on normal linear DNA. The SCD retains some ability to recognize and cleave a deviated DNA double-helix near a nick or a strand-crossing site. Thus, we infer that the non-specific and nicked-site cleavage activities observed for the native T7 endonuclease I (as distinct from the resolution activity) are due to uncoordinated actions of the catalytic domains. The positively charged C-terminus of T7 Endo I is essential for the enzymatic activity of SCD, as it is for the native enzyme. We propose that the preference of the native enzyme for the resolution reaction is achieved by cooperativity in the binding of its two catalytic domains when presented with two of the arms across a four-way junction or cruciform structure.

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