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EMBO J. 1996 Nov 15;15(22):6335-47.

Repercussions of DNA tracking by the type IC restriction endonuclease EcoR124I on linear, circular and catenated substrates.

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Department of Biochemistry, Centre for Molecular Recognition, University of Bristol, UK.


Type I restriction endonucleases such as EcoR124I cleave DNA at undefined loci, distant from their recognition sequences, by a mechanism that involves the enzyme tracking along the DNA between recognition and cleavage sites. This mechanism was examined on plasmids that carried recognition sites for EcoR124I and recombination sites for resolvase, the latter to create DNA catenanes. Supercoiled substrates with either one or two restriction sites were linearized by EcoR124I at similar rates, although the two-site molecule underwent further cleavage more readily than the one-site DNA. The catenane from the plasmid with one EcoR124I site, carrying the site on the smaller of the two rings, was cleaved by EcoR124I exclusively in the small ring, and this underwent multiple cleavage akin to the two-site plasmid. Linear substrates derived from the plasmids were cleaved by EcoR124I at very slow rates. The communication between recognition and cleavage sites therefore cannot stem from random looping. Instead, it must follow the DNA contour between the sites. On a circular DNA, the translocation of non-specific DNA past the specifically bound protein should increase negative supercoiling in one domain and decrease it in the other. The ensuing topological barrier may be the trigger for DNA cleavage.

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