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EMBO J. 1998 Dec 1;17(23):7118-27.

Localization of a protein-DNA interface by random mutagenesis.

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Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, Darwin Building, King's Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, UK.


The type I restriction and modification enzymes do not possess obvious DNA-binding motifs within their target recognition domains (TRDs) of 150-180 amino acids. To identify residues involved in DNA recognition, changes were made in the amino-TRD of EcoKI by random mutagenesis. Most of the 101 substitutions affecting 79 residues had no effect on the phenotype. Changes at only seven positions caused the loss of restriction and modification activities. The seven residues identified by mutation are not randomly distributed throughout the primary sequence of the TRD: five are within the interval between residues 80 and 110. Sequence analyses have led to the suggestion that the TRDs of type I restriction enzymes include a tertiary structure similar to the TRD of the HhaI methyltransferase, and to a model for a DNA-protein interface in EcoKI. In this model, the residues within the interval identified by the five mutations are close to the protein-DNA interface. Three additional residues close to the DNA in the model were changed; each substitution impaired both activities. Proteins from twelve mutants were purified: six from mutants with partial or wild-type activity and six from mutants lacking activity. There is a strong correlation between phenotype and DNA-binding affinity, as determined by fluorescence anisotropy.

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