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Biochemistry. 1990 Dec 4;29(48):10727-33.

Fidelity of DNA recognition by the EcoRV restriction/modification system in vivo.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Bristol, U.K.


The EcoRV restriction/modification system consists of two enzymes that recognize the DNA sequence GATATC. The EcoRV restriction endonuclease cleaves DNA at this site, but the DNA of Escherichia coli carrying the EcoRV system is protected from this reaction by the EcoRV methyltransferase. However, in vitro, the EcoRV nuclease also cleaves DNA at most sites that differ from the recognition sequence by one base pair. Though the reaction of the nuclease at these sites is much slower than that at the cognate site, it still appears to be fast enough to cleave the chromosome of the cell into many fragments. The possibility that the EcoRV methyltransferase also protects the noncognate sites on the chromosome was examined. The modification enzyme methylated alternate sites in vivo, but these were not the same as the alternate sites for the nuclease. The excess methylation was found at GATC sequences, which are also the targets for the dam methyltransferase of E. coli, a protein that is homologous to the EcoRV methyltransferase. Methylation at these sites gave virtually no protection against the EcoRV nuclease: even when the EcoRV methyltransferase had been overproduced, the cellular DNA remained sensitive to the EcoRV nuclease at its noncognate sites. The viability of E. coli carrying the EcoRV restriction/modification system was found instead to depend on the activity of DNA ligase. Ligase appears to proofread the EcoRV R/M system in vivo: DNA, cut initially in one strand at a noncognate site for the nuclease, is presumably repaired by ligase before the scission of the second strand.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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