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DNA Repair (Amst). 2007 Nov;6(11):1629-41. Epub 2007 Jul 12.

Human endonuclease VIII-like (NEIL) proteins in the giant DNA Mimivirus.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, The Markey Center for Molecular Genetics, The University of Vermont, Stafford Hall, 95 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, VT 05405-0068, United States.


Endonuclease VIII (Nei), which recognizes and repairs oxidized pyrimidines in the base excision repair (BER) pathway, is sparsely distributed among both the prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Recently, we and others identified three homologs of Escherichia coli endonuclease VIII-like (NEIL) proteins in humans. Here, we report identification of human NEIL homologs in Mimivirus, a giant DNA virus that infects Acanthamoeba. Characterization of the two mimiviral homologs, MvNei1 and MvNei2, showed that they share not only sequence homology but also substrate specificity with the human NEIL proteins, that is, they recognize oxidized pyrimidines in duplex DNA and in bubble substrates and as well show 5'2-deoxyribose-5-phosphate lyase (dRP lyase) activity. However, unlike MvNei1 and the human NEIL proteins, MvNei2 preferentially cleaves oxidized pyrimidines in single stranded DNA forming products with a different end chemistry. Interestingly, opposite base specificity of MvNei1 resembles human NEIL proteins for pyrimidine base damages whereas it resembles E. coli formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg) for guanidinohydantoin (Gh), an oxidation product of 8-oxoguanine. Finally, a conserved arginine residue in the "zincless finger" motif, previously identified in human NEIL1, is required for the DNA glycosylase activity of MvNei1. Thus, Mimivirus represents the first example of a virus to carry oxidative DNA glycosylases with substrate specificities that resemble human NEIL proteins. Based on the sequence homology to the human NEIL homologs and novel bacterial NEIL homologs identified here, we predict that Mimivirus may have acquired the DNA glycosylases through the host-mediated lateral transfer from either a bacterium or from vertebrates.

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