ABSTRACT: The Rap protein of phage lambda is an endonuclease that nicks branched DNA structures. It has been proposed that Rap can nick D-loops formed during phage recombination to generate splice products without the need for the formation of a 4-strand (Holliday) junction. The structure specificity of Rap was investigated using a variety of branched DNA molecules made by annealing partially complementary oligo-nucleotides. On Holliday junctions, Rap endonuclease shows a requirement for magnesium or manganese ions, with Mn(2+)supporting 5-fold more cleavage than Mg(2+). The location of endonuclease incisions was determined on 3'-tailed D-loop, bubble, flayed duplex, 5'-flap and Y junction DNA substrates. In all cases, Rap preferentially cleaves at the branch point of these molecules. With a flayed duplex, incisions are made in the duplex adjacent to the single-strand arms. Comparison of binding and cleavage specificities revealed that Rap is highly structure-specific and exhibits a clear preference for 4- and 3-stranded DNA over Y and flayed duplex DNA. Almost no binding or cleavage was detected with duplex, partial duplex and single-stranded DNA. Thus Rap endonuclease shows a bias for structures that resemble D-loop and Holliday junction recombination intermediates.
Project description:Viral and bacterial Holliday junction resolvases differ in specificity with the former typically being more promiscuous, acting on a variety of branched DNA substrates, while the latter exclusively targets Holliday junctions. We have determined the crystal structure of a RuvC resolvase from bacteriophage bIL67 to help identify features responsible for DNA branch discrimination. Comparisons between phage and bacterial RuvC structures revealed significant differences in the number and position of positively-charged residues in the outer sides of the junction binding cleft. Substitutions were generated in phage RuvC residues implicated in branch recognition and six were found to confer defects in Holliday junction and replication fork cleavage in vivo. Two mutants, R121A and R124A that flank the DNA binding site were purified and exhibited reduced in vitro binding to fork and linear duplex substrates relative to the wild-type, while retaining the ability to bind X junctions. Crucially, these two variants cleaved Holliday junctions with enhanced specificity and symmetry, a feature more akin to cellular RuvC resolvases. Thus, additional positive charges in the phage RuvC binding site apparently stabilize productive interactions with branched structures other than the canonical Holliday junction, a feature advantageous for viral DNA processing but deleterious for their cellular counterparts.
Project description:The MUS81-EME1 endonuclease maintains metazoan genomic integrity by cleaving branched DNA structures that arise during the resolution of recombination intermediates. In humans, MUS81 also forms a poorly characterized complex with EME2. Here, we identify and determine the structure of a winged helix (WH) domain from human MUS81, which binds DNA. WH domain mutations greatly reduce binding of the isolated domain to DNA and impact on incision activity of MUS81-EME1/EME2 complexes. Deletion of the WH domain reduces the endonuclease activity of both MUS81-EME1 and MUS81-EME2 complexes, and incisions made by MUS81-EME2 are made closer to the junction on substrates containing a downstream duplex, such as fork structures and nicked Holliday junctions. WH domain mutation or deletion in Schizosaccharomyces pombe phenocopies the DNA-damage sensitivity of strains deleted for mus81. Our results indicate an important role for the WH domain in both yeast and human MUS81 complexes.
Project description:The first steps of poxvirus DNA synthesis yield concatemeric arrays of covalently linked genomes. The virus-encoded Holliday junction resolvase is required to process concatemers into unit-length genomes for packaging. Previous studies of the vaccinia virus resolvase have been problematic due to poor protein solubility. We found that fowlpox virus resolvase was much more tractable. Fowlpox resolvase formed complexes with a variety of branched DNA substrates, but not linear DNA, and had the highest affinity for a Holliday junction substrate, illustrating a previously unappreciated affinity for Holliday junctions over other substrates. The cleavage activity was monitored in fixed time assays, showing that, as with vaccinia resolvase, the fowlpox enzyme could cleave a wide array of branched DNA substrates. Single turnover kinetic analysis revealed the Holliday junction substrate was cleaved 90-fold faster than a splayed duplex substrate containing a single to double strand transition. Multiple turnover kinetic analysis, however, showed that the cleavage step was not limiting for the full reaction cycle. Cleavage by resolvase was also tightly coupled at symmetrical positions across the junction, and coupling required the complete Holliday junction structure. Last, we found that cleavage of an extruded cruciform yielded a product, which after treatment with ligase, had the properties expected for covalently closed DNA hairpin ends, as is seen for poxvirus genome monomers. These findings provide a tractable poxvirus resolvase usable for the development of small molecule inhibitors.
Project description:Sulfolobus islandicus rod shaped virus 2 (SIRV2) infects the archaeon Sulfolobus islandicus at extreme temperature (70°C-80°C) and acidity (pH 3). SIRV2 encodes a Holliday junction resolving enzyme (SIRV2 Hjr) that has been proposed as a key enzyme in SIRV2 genome replication. The molecular mechanism for SIRV2 Hjr four-way junction cleavage bias, minimal requirements for four-way junction cleavage, and substrate specificity were determined. SIRV2 Hjr cleaves four-way DNA junctions with a preference for cleavage of exchange strand pairs, in contrast to host-derived resolving enzymes, suggesting fundamental differences in substrate recognition and cleavage among closely related Sulfolobus resolving enzymes. Unlike other viral resolving enzymes, such as T4 endonuclease VII or T7 endonuclease I, that cleave branched DNA replication intermediates, SIRV2 Hjr cleavage is specific to four-way DNA junctions and inactive on other branched DNA molecules. In addition, a specific interaction was detected between SIRV2 Hjr and the SIRV2 virion body coat protein (SIRV2gp26). Based on this observation, a model is proposed linking SIRV2 Hjr genome resolution to viral particle assembly.
Project description:Holliday junctions (HJs) that physically link sister chromatids or homologous chromosomes are formed as intermediates during DNA repair by homologous recombination. Persistent recombination intermediates are acted upon by structure-selective endonucleases that are required for proper chromosome segregation at mitosis. Here, we have purified full-length human GEN1 protein and show that it promotes Holliday junction resolution by a mechanism that is analogous to that exhibited by the prototypic HJ resolvase E. coli RuvC. We find that GEN1 cleaves HJs by a nick and counter-nick mechanism involving dual co-ordinated incisions that lead to the formation of ligatable nicked duplex products. As observed with RuvC, cleavage of the first strand is rate limiting, while second strand cleavage is rapid. In contrast to RuvC, however, GEN1 is largely monomeric in solution, but dimerizes on the HJ. Using HJs containing non-cleavable phosphorothioate-containing linkages in one strand, we show that the two incisions can be uncoupled and that the first nick occurs upon GEN1 dimerization at the junction. These results indicate that the mechanism of HJ resolution is largely conserved from bacteria to man, despite a lack of sequence homology between the resolvases.
Project description:The phage T4 UvsW protein has been shown to play a crucial role in the switch from origin-dependent to recombination-dependent replication in T4 infections through the unwinding of origin R-loop initiation intermediates. UvsW also functions with UvsX and UvsY to repair damaged DNA through homologous recombination, and, based on genetic evidence, has been proposed to act as a Holliday junction branch migration enzyme. Here we report the purification and characterization of UvsW. Using oligonucleotide-based substrates, we confirm that UvsW unwinds branched DNA substrates, including X and Y structures, but shows little activity in unwinding linear duplex substrates with blunt or single-strand ends. Using a novel Holliday junction-containing substrate, we also demonstrate that UvsW promotes the branch migration of Holliday junctions efficiently through more than 1000 bp of DNA. The ATP hydrolysis-deficient mutant protein, UvsW-K141R, is unable to promote Holliday junction branch migration. However, both UvsW and UvsW-K141R are capable of stabilizing Holliday junctions against spontaneous branch migration when ATP is not present. Using two-dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis we also show that UvsW acts on T4-generated replication intermediates, including Holliday junction-containing X-shaped intermediates and replication fork-shaped intermediates. Taken together, these results strongly support a role for UvsW in the branch migration of Holliday junctions that form during T4 recombination, replication, and repair.
Project description:The key intermediate in genetic recombination is the Holliday junction (HJ), a four-way DNA structure. At the end of recombination, HJs are cleaved by specific nucleases called resolvases. In Gram-negative bacteria, this cleavage is performed by RuvC, a dimeric endonuclease that belongs to the retroviral integrase superfamily. Here, we report the first crystal structure of RuvC in complex with a synthetic HJ solved at 3.75 Å resolution. The junction in the complex is in an unfolded 2-fold symmetrical conformation, in which the four arms point toward the vertices of a tetrahedron. The two scissile phosphates are located one nucleotide from the strand exchange point, and RuvC approaches them from the minor groove side. The key protein-DNA contacts observed in the structure were verified using a thiol-based site-specific cross-linking approach. Compared with known complex structures of the phage resolvases endonuclease I and endonuclease VII, the RuvC structure exhibits striking differences in the mode of substrate binding and location of the cleavage site.
Project description:Rad54, a key protein of homologous recombination, physically interacts with a DNA structure-specific endonuclease, Mus81-Eme1. Genetic data indicate that Mus81-Eme1 and Rad54 might function together in the repair of damaged DNA. In vitro, Rad54 promotes branch migration of Holliday junctions, whereas the Mus81-Eme1 complex resolves DNA junctions by endonucleolytic cleavage. Here, we show that human Rad54 stimulates Mus81-Eme1 endonuclease activity on various Holliday junction-like intermediates. This stimulation is the product of specific interactions between the human Rad54 (hRad54) and Mus81 proteins, considering that Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rad54 protein does not stimulate human Mus81-Eme1 endonuclease activity. Stimulation of Mus81-Eme1 cleavage activity depends on formation of specific Rad54 complexes on DNA substrates occurring in the presence of ATP and, to a smaller extent, of other nucleotide cofactors. Thus, our results demonstrate a functional link between the branch migration activity of hRad54 and the structure-specific endonuclease activity of hMus81-Eme1, suggesting that the Rad54 and Mus81-Eme1 proteins may cooperate in the processing of Holliday junction-like intermediates during homologous recombination or DNA repair.
Project description:Recombination-mediated repair plays a central role in maintaining genomic integrity during DNA replication. The human Mus81-Eme1 endonuclease is involved in recombination repair, but the exact structures it acts on in vivo are not known. Using kinetic and enzymatic analysis of highly purified recombinant enzyme, we find that Mus81-Eme1 catalyzes coordinate bilateral cleavage of model Holliday-junction structures. Using a self-limiting, cruciform-containing substrate, we demonstrate that bilateral cleavage occurs sequentially within the lifetime of the enzyme-substrate complex. Coordinate bilateral cleavage is promoted by the highly cooperative nature of the enzyme and results in symmetrical cleavage of a cruciform structure, thus, Mus81-Eme1 can ensure coordinate, bilateral cleavage of Holliday junction-like structures.
Project description:Resolution of Holliday junctions into separate DNA duplexes requires enzymatic cleavage of an equivalent strand from each contributing duplex at or close to the point of strand exchange. Diverse Holliday junction-resolving enzymes have been identified in bacteria, bacteriophages, archaea and pox viruses, but the only eukaryotic examples identified so far are those from fungal mitochondria. We have now determined the crystal structure of Ydc2 (also known as SpCce1), a Holliday junction resolvase from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe that is involved in the maintenance of mitochondrial DNA. This first structure of a eukaryotic Holliday junction resolvase confirms a distant evolutionary relationship to the bacterial RuvC family, but reveals structural features which are unique to the eukaryotic enzymes. Detailed analysis of the dimeric structure suggests mechanisms for junction isomerization and communication between the two active sites, and together with site-directed mutagenesis identifies residues involved in catalysis.