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EMBO J. 1990 Sep;9(9):2931-6.

Resolution of synthetic Holliday junctions in DNA by an endonuclease activity from calf thymus.

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Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Clare Hall Laboratories, South Mimms, Herts, UK.


Extracts of calf thymus have been fractionated to reveal a nuclease activity that specifically cleaves model Holliday junctions in vitro. The products of cleavage are unbranched linear duplex DNA molecules. Using synthetic four-way junctions, we show that the major sites of cutting are diametrically opposed, at sites one nucleotide from the base of the junction. Other types of four-way junctions, including pseudo-cruciform structures and cruciforms extruded from supercoiled plasmids, are also cleaved by the nuclease. The Mr of the partially purified activity, determined by gel filtration, is approximately 75,000. The calf thymus enzyme provides the first example of an endonuclease from a higher eukaryote that acts specifically on branch points in DNA, and indicates that junction-resolving proteins are normal constituents of somatic cells.

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