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J Mol Biol. 1993 Nov 5;234(1):60-71.

DNA recognition by the EcoK methyltransferase. The influence of DNA methylation and the cofactor S-adenosyl-L-methionine.

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Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, U.K.


The methyltransferase of the EcoK type I restriction/modification system is trimeric, M2S1, where the S subunit determines the sequence specificity of the enzyme. The methyltransferase has a strong preference for hemimethylated substrate DNA and, therefore, we have investigated the effect of the methylation state of DNA on binding by the enzyme, together with the effects on binding of the cofactor S-adenosyl-L-methionine. Our results indicate that the methyltransferase has two non-interacting S-adenosyl-L-methionine binding sites, each with a dissociation constant of 3.60 (+/- 0.42) microM determined by equilibrium dialysis, or 2.21 (+/- 0.29) microM determined by the displacement of a fluorescent probe. Ultraviolet light-induced crosslinking showed that S-adenosyl-L-methionine binds strongly only to the modification (M) subunits. Changes in the sedimentation velocity of the methyltransferase imply a protein conformational change due to S-adenosyl-L-methionine binding. Gel retardation results show that the binding of S-adenosyl-L-methionine to the methyltransferase enhances binding to both specific and non-specific DNAs, but the enhancement is greater for the specific DNA. Differences in binding affinities contribute to the recognition of the specific nucleotide sequence AAC(N)6GTGC by the methyltransferase in preference to a non-specific sequence. In contrast, although the complexes of unmodified and hemimethylated DNAs with the methyltransferase have different mobilities in non-denaturing gels, there appears to be no contribution of binding affinity to the distinction between these two substrates. Therefore, the preference for a hemimethylated substrate must be due to a difference in catalysis.

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