Structural basis for sequence-dependent DNA cleavage by nonspecific endonucleases.
ABSTRACT: Nonspecific endonucleases hydrolyze DNA without sequence specificity but with sequence preference, however the structural basis for cleavage preference remains elusive. We show here that the nonspecific endonuclease ColE7 cleaves DNA with a preference for making nicks after (at 3'O-side) thymine bases but the periplasmic nuclease Vvn cleaves DNA more evenly with little sequence preference. The crystal structure of the 'preferred complex' of the nuclease domain of ColE7 bound to an 18 bp DNA with a thymine before the scissile phosphate had a more distorted DNA phosphate backbone than the backbones in the non-preferred complexes, so that the scissile phosphate was compositionally closer to the endonuclease active site resulting in more efficient DNA cleavage. On the other hand, in the crystal structure of Vvn in complex with a 16 bp DNA, the DNA phosphate backbone was similar and not distorted in comparison with that of a previously reported complex of Vvn with a different DNA sequence. Taken together these results suggest a general structural basis for the sequence-dependent DNA cleavage catalyzed by nonspecific endonucleases, indicating that nonspecific nucleases could induce DNA to deform to distinctive levels depending on the local sequence leading to different cleavage rates along the DNA chain.
Project description:The nuclease domain of ColE7 (N-ColE7) contains an H-N-H motif that folds in a beta beta alpha-metal topology. Here we report the crystal structures of a Zn2+-bound N-ColE7 (H545E mutant) in complex with a 12-bp duplex DNA and a Ni2+-bound N-ColE7 in complex with the inhibitor Im7 at a resolution of 2.5 A and 2.0 A, respectively. Metal-dependent cleavage assays showed that N-ColE7 cleaves double-stranded DNA with a single metal ion cofactor, Ni2+, Mg2+, Mn2+, and Zn2+. ColE7 purified from Escherichia coli contains an endogenous zinc ion that was not replaced by Mg2+ at concentrations of <25 mM, indicating that zinc is the physiologically relevant metal ion in N-ColE7 in host E. coli. In the crystal structure of N-ColE7/DNA complex, the zinc ion is directly coordinated to three histidines and the DNA scissile phosphate in a tetrahedral geometry. In contrast, Ni2+ is bound in N-ColE7 in two different modes, to four ligands (three histidines and one phosphate ion), or to five ligands with an additional water molecule. These data suggest that the divalent metal ion in the His-metal finger motif can be coordinated to six ligands, such as Mg2+ in I-PpoI, Serratia nuclease and Vvn, five ligands or four ligands, such as Ni2+ or Zn2+ in ColE7. Universally, the metal ion in the His-metal finger motif is bound to the DNA scissile phosphate and serves three roles during hydrolysis: polarization of the P-O bond for nucleophilic attack, stabilization of the phosphoanion transition state and stabilization of the cleaved product.
Project description:The number of strand-specific nicking endonucleases that are currently available for laboratory procedures and applications in vivo is limited, and none is sufficiently specific to nick single target sites within complex genomes. The extreme target specificity of homing endonucleases makes them attractive candidates for engineering high-specificity nicking endonucleases. I-SceI is a monomeric homing enzyme that recognizes an 18 bp asymmetric target sequence, and cleaves both DNA strands to leave 3'-overhangs of 4 bp. In single turnover experiments using plasmid substrates, I-SceI generates transient open circle intermediates during the conversion of supercoiled to linear DNA, indicating that the enzyme cleaves the two DNA strands sequentially. A novel hairpin substrate was used to demonstrate that although wild-type I-SceI cleaves either the top or bottom DNA strand first to generate two nicked DNA intermediates, the enzyme has a preference for cleaving the bottom strand. The kinetics data are consistent with a parallel sequential reaction mechanism. Substitution of two pseudo-symmetric residues, Lys122 and Lys223, markedly reduces top and bottom-strand cleavage, respectively, to generate enzymes with significant strand- and sequence-specific nicking activity. The two active sites are partially interdependent, since alterations to one site affect the second. The kinetics analysis is consistent with X-ray crystal structures of I-SceI/DNA complexes that reveal a role for the lysines in establishing important solvent networks that include nucleophilic water molecules thought to attack the scissile phosphodiester bonds.
Project description:Flap endonucleases catalyze cleavage of single-stranded DNA flaps formed during replication, repair, and recombination and are therefore essential for genome processing and stability. Recent crystal structures of DNA-bound human flap endonuclease (hFEN1) offer new insights into how conformational changes in the DNA and hFEN1 may facilitate the reaction mechanism. For example, previous biochemical studies of DNA conformation performed under non-catalytic conditions with Ca2+ have suggested that base unpairing at the 5'-flap:template junction is an important step in the reaction, but the new structural data suggest otherwise. To clarify the role of DNA changes in the kinetic mechanism, we measured a series of transient steps, from substrate binding to product release, during the hFEN1-catalyzed reaction in the presence of Mg2+ We found that whereas hFEN1 binds and bends DNA at a fast, diffusion-limited rate, much slower Mg2+-dependent conformational changes in DNA around the active site are subsequently necessary and rate-limiting for 5'-flap cleavage. These changes are reported overall by fluorescence of 2-aminopurine at the 5'-flap:template junction, indicating that local DNA distortion (e.g. disruption of base stacking observed in structures), associated with positioning the 5'-flap scissile phosphodiester bond in the hFEN1 active site, controls catalysis. hFEN1 residues with distinct roles in the catalytic mechanism, including those binding metal ions (Asp-34 and Asp-181), steering the 5'-flap through the active site and binding the scissile phosphate (Lys-93 and Arg-100), and stacking against the base 5' to the scissile phosphate (Tyr-40), all contribute to these rate-limiting conformational changes, ensuring efficient and specific cleavage of 5'-flaps.
Project description:Identifying and validating intermolecular covariation between proteins and their DNA-binding sites can provide insights into mechanisms that regulate selectivity and starting points for engineering new specificity. LAGLIDADG homing endonucleases (meganucleases) can be engineered to bind non-native target sites for gene-editing applications, but not all redesigns successfully reprogram specificity. To gain a global overview of residues that influence meganuclease specificity, we used information theory to identify protein-DNA covariation. Directed evolution experiments of one predicted pair, 227/+3, revealed variants with surprising shifts in I-OnuI substrate preference at the central 4 bases where cleavage occurs. Structural studies showed significant remodeling distant from the covarying position, including restructuring of an inter-hairpin loop, DNA distortions near the scissile phosphates, and new base-specific contacts. Our findings are consistent with a model whereby the functional impacts of covariation can be indirectly propagated to neighboring residues outside of direct contact range, allowing meganucleases to adapt to target site variation and indirectly expand the sequence space accessible for cleavage. We suggest that some engineered meganucleases may have unexpected cleavage profiles that were not rationally incorporated during the design process.
Project description:Homing endonucleases are sequence-tolerant DNA endonucleases that act as mobile genetic elements. The ability of homing endonucleases to cleave substrates with multiple nucleotide substitutions suggests a high degree of adaptability in that changing or modulating cleavage preference would require relatively few amino acid substitutions. Here, using directed evolution experiments with the GIY-YIG homing endonuclease I-TevI that targets the thymidylate synthase gene of phage T4, we readily isolated variants that dramatically broadened I-TevI cleavage preference, as well as variants that fine-tuned cleavage preference. By combining substitutions, we observed an ∼10 000-fold improvement in cleavage on some substrates not cleaved by the wild-type enzyme, correlating with a decrease in readout of information content at the cleavage site. Strikingly, we were able to change the cleavage preference of I-TevI to that of the isoschizomer I-BmoI which targets a different cleavage site in the thymidylate synthase gene, recapitulating the evolution of cleavage preference in this family of homing endonucleases. Our results define a strategy to isolate GIY-YIG nuclease domains with distinct cleavage preferences, and provide insight into how homing endonucleases may escape a dead-end life cycle in a population of saturated target sites by promoting transposition to different target sites.
Project description:Restriction endonucleases are highly specific in recognizing the particular DNA sequence they act on. However, their activity is affected by sequence context, enzyme concentration and buffer composition. Changes in these factors may lead to either ineffective cleavage at the cognate restriction site or relaxed specificity allowing cleavage of degenerate 'star' sites. Additionally, uncharacterized restriction endonucleases and engineered variants present novel activities. Traditionally, restriction endonuclease activity is assayed on simple substrates such as plasmids and synthesized oligonucleotides. We present and use high-throughput Illumina sequencing-based strategies to assay the sequence specificity and flanking sequence preference of restriction endonucleases. The techniques use fragmented DNA from sequenced genomes to quantify restriction endonuclease cleavage on a complex genomic DNA substrate in a single reaction. By mapping millions of restriction site-flanking reads back to the Escherichia coli and Drosophila melanogaster genomes we were able to quantitatively characterize the cognate and star site activity of EcoRI and MfeI and demonstrate genome-wide decreases in star activity with engineered high-fidelity variants EcoRI-HF and MfeI-HF, as well as quantify the influence on MfeI cleavage conferred by flanking nucleotides. The methods presented are readily applicable to all type II restriction endonucleases that cleave both strands of double-stranded DNA.
Project description:Topoisomerase II resolves intrinsic topological problems of double-stranded DNA. As part of its essential cellular functions, the enzyme generates DNA breaks, but the regulation of this potentially dangerous process is not well understood. Here we report single-molecule fluorescence experiments that reveal a previously uncharacterized sequence of events during DNA cleavage by topoisomerase II: nonspecific DNA binding, sequence-specific DNA bending, and stochastic cleavage of DNA. We have identified unexpected structural roles of Mg(2+) ions coordinated in the TOPRIM (topoisomerase-primase) domain in inducing cleavage-competent DNA bending. A break at one scissile bond dramatically stabilized DNA bending, explaining how two scission events in opposing strands can be coordinated to achieve a high probability of double-stranded cleavage. Clamping of the protein N-gate greatly enhanced the rate and degree of DNA bending, resulting in a significant stimulation of the DNA cleavage and opening reactions. Our data strongly suggest that the accurate cleavage of DNA by topoisomerase II is regulated through a tight coordination with DNA bending.
Project description:The crystal structures of protein-nucleic acid complexes are commonly determined using selenium-derivatized proteins via MAD or SAD phasing. Here, the first protein-nucleic acid complex structure determined using selenium-derivatized nucleic acids is reported. The RNase H-RNA/DNA complex is used as an example to demonstrate the proof of principle. The high-resolution crystal structure indicates that this selenium replacement results in a local subtle unwinding of the RNA/DNA substrate duplex, thereby shifting the RNA scissile phosphate closer to the transition state of the enzyme-catalyzed reaction. It was also observed that the scissile phosphate forms a hydrogen bond to the water nucleophile and helps to position the water molecule in the structure. Consistently, it was discovered that the substitution of a single O atom by a Se atom in a guide DNA sequence can largely accelerate RNase H catalysis. These structural and catalytic studies shed new light on the guide-dependent RNA cleavage.
Project description:Type I restriction-modification enzymes are multifunctional heteromeric complexes with DNA cleavage and ATP-dependent DNA translocation activities located on motor subunit HsdR. Functional coupling of DNA cleavage and translocation is a hallmark of the Type I restriction systems that is consistent with their proposed role in horizontal gene transfer. DNA cleavage occurs at nonspecific sites distant from the cognate recognition sequence, apparently triggered by stalled translocation. The X-ray crystal structure of the complete HsdR subunit from E. coli plasmid R124 suggested that the triggering mechanism involves interdomain contacts mediated by ATP. In the present work, in vivo and in vitro activity assays and crystal structures of three mutants of EcoR124I HsdR designed to probe this mechanism are reported. The results indicate that interdomain engagement via ATP is indeed responsible for signal transmission between the endonuclease and helicase domains of the motor subunit. A previously identified sequence motif that is shared by the RecB nucleases and some Type I endonucleases is implicated in signaling.
Project description:The 2.15-A resolution cocrystal structure of EcoRV endonuclease mutant T93A complexed with DNA and Ca2+ ions reveals two divalent metals bound in one of the active sites. One of these metals is ligated through an inner-sphere water molecule to the phosphate group located 3' to the scissile phosphate. A second inner-sphere water on this metal is positioned approximately in-line for attack on the scissile phosphate. This structure corroborates the observation that the pro-SP phosphoryl oxygen on the adjacent 3' phosphate cannot be modified without severe loss of catalytic efficiency. The structural equivalence of key groups, conserved in the active sites of EcoRV, EcoRI, PvuII, and BamHI endonucleases, suggests that ligation of a catalytic divalent metal ion to this phosphate may occur in many type II restriction enzymes. Together with previous cocrystal structures, these data allow construction of a detailed model for the pretransition state configuration in EcoRV. This model features three divalent metal ions per active site and invokes assistance in the bond-making step by a conserved lysine, which stabilizes the attacking hydroxide ion nucleophile.