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J Mol Biol. 1994 Apr 1;237(3):266-74.

The Escherichia coli prr region encodes a functional type IC DNA restriction system closely integrated with an anticodon nuclease gene.

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Department of Microbiology, Basel University, Switzerland.


The prr locus was originally described as coding a ribonuclease that is activated after phage T4 infection to cut within the anticodon of a specific tRNA, inactivating protein synthesis and thus blocking phage development. Wild-type T4 phage has two genes coding the enzymes polynucleotide kinase and RNA ligase, whose only function seems to be to repair the damage done by the anticodon nuclease. As the only apparent function of the prr ribonuclease is to combat phage infection, it can be considered as an RNA-based restriction enzyme. In non-infected cells, the prr enzyme is kept inactive in a complex with three other proteins which were predicted on the basis of DNA homologies to be the subunits of a type IC DNA restriction and modification system. Unlike other type IC systems so far characterized, prr is chromosomally rather than plasmid coded. However, sequences upstream from prr also have homology with sequences from the plasmid R124 and the prophage P1. We have now investigated the prr system and shown that it is indeed a bona fide type IC system which we call EcoprrI, and which is active both in vivo and in vitro. The system is fully functional even in the absence of the anticodon nuclease and seems to be a typical type I enzyme. EcoprrI recognizes the sequence CCA(N7)RTGC. One peculiarity is that, with low efficiency, EcoprrI will recognize and methylate variants of its recognition sequence such as CCT(N7)ATGC, which is methylated in one strand of the DNA only.

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