Related homing endonucleases I-BmoI and I-TevI use different strategies to cleave homologous recognition sites.
ABSTRACT: A typical homing endonuclease initiates mobility of its group I intron by recognizing DNA both upstream and downstream of the intron insertion site of intronless alleles, preventing the endonuclease from binding and cleaving its own intron-containing allele. Here, we describe a GIY-YIG family homing endonuclease, I-BmoI, that possesses an unusual recognition sequence, encompassing 1 base pair upstream but 38 base pairs downstream of the intron insertion site. I-BmoI binds intron-containing and intronless substrates with equal affinity but can nevertheless discriminate between the two for cleavage. I-BmoI is encoded by a group I intron that interrupts the thymidylate synthase (TS) gene (thyA) of Bacillus mojavensis s87-18. This intron resembles one inserted 21 nucleotides further downstream in a homologous TS gene (td) of Escherichia coli phage T4. I-TevI, the T4 td intron-encoded GIY-YIG endonuclease, is very similar to I-BmoI, but each endonuclease gene is inserted within a different position of its respective intron. Remarkably, I-TevI and I-BmoI bind a homologous stretch of TS-encoding DNA and cleave their intronless substrates in very similar positions. Our results suggest that each endonuclease has independently evolved the ability to distinguish intron-containing from intronless alleles while maintaining the same conserved recognition sequence centered on DNA-encoding active site residues of TS.
Project description:GIY-YIG homing endonucleases are modular proteins, with conserved N-terminal catalytic domains connected by linkers to C-terminal DNA-binding domains. I-TevI, the T4 phage GIY-YIG intron endonuclease, functions both in promoting td intron homing, and in acting as a transcriptional autorepressor. Repression is achieved by binding to an operator, which is cleaved at 100-fold reduced efficiency relative to the intronless homing site. The linker includes a zinc finger, which functions in distance determination, to constrain the catalytic domain to cleave the homing site at a fixed position. Here we show that I-BmoI, a related GIY-YIG endonuclease lacking a zinc finger, also possesses some cleavage distance discrimination. Furthermore, hybrid endonucleases constructed by swapping the domains of I-BmoI and I-TevI are active, precise and demonstrate that features other than the zinc finger facilitate distance determination. Most importantly, I-TevI zinc finger mutants cleave the operator more efficiently than the homing site, the converse of wild-type protein. These results are consistent with the zinc finger acting as a measuring device, directing efficient cleavage of the homing site to promote intron mobility, while reducing cleavage at the operator to ensure transcriptional autorepression and phage viability.
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:Insight into protein structure and function is best obtained through a synthesis of experimental, structural and bioinformatic data. Here, we outline a framework that we call MUSE (mutual information, unigenic evolution and structure-guided elucidation), which facilitated the identification of previously unknown residues that are relevant for function of the GIY-YIG homing endonuclease I-BmoI. Our approach synthesizes three types of data: mutual information analyses that identify co-evolving residues within the GIY-YIG catalytic domain; a unigenic evolution strategy that identifies hyper- and hypo-mutable residues of I-BmoI; and interpretation of the unigenic and co-evolution data using a homology model. In particular, we identify novel positions within the GIY-YIG domain as functionally important. Proof-of-principle experiments implicate the non-conserved I71 as functionally relevant, with an I71N mutant accumulating a nicked cleavage intermediate. Moreover, many additional positions within the catalytic, linker and C-terminal domains of I-BmoI were implicated as important for function. Our results represent a platform on which to pursue future studies of I-BmoI and other GIY-YIG-containing proteins, and demonstrate that MUSE can successfully identify novel functionally critical residues that would be ignored in a traditional structure-function analysis within an extensively studied small domain of approximately 90 amino acids.
Project description:Homing endonucleases are site-specific DNA endonucleases that function as mobile genetic elements by introducing double-strand breaks or nicks at defined locations. Of the major families of homing endonucleases, the modular GIY-YIG endonucleases are least understood in terms of mechanism. The GIY-YIG homing endonuclease I-BmoI generates a double-strand break by sequential nicking reactions during which the single active site of the GIY-YIG nuclease domain must undergo a substantial reorganization. Here, we show that divalent metal ion plays a significant role in regulating the two independent nicking reactions by I-BmoI. Rate constant determination for each nicking reaction revealed that limiting divalent metal ion has a greater impact on the second strand than the first strand nicking reaction. We also show that substrate mutations within the I-BmoI cleavage site can modulate the first strand nicking reaction over a 314-fold range. Additionally, in-gel DNA footprinting with mutant substrates and modeling of an I-BmoI-substrate complex suggest that amino acid contacts to a critical GC-2 base pair are required to induce a bottom-strand distortion that likely directs conformational changes for reaction progress. Collectively, our data implies mechanistic roles for divalent metal ion and substrate bases, suggesting that divalent metal ion facilitates the re-positioning of the GIY-YIG nuclease domain between sequential nicking reactions.
Project description:The GIY-YIG nuclease domain is found within protein scaffolds that participate in diverse cellular pathways and contains a single active site that hydrolyzes DNA by a one-metal ion mechanism. GIY-YIG homing endonucleases (GIY-HEs) are two-domain proteins with N-terminal GIY-YIG nuclease domains connected to C-terminal DNA-binding and they are thought to function as monomers. Using I-BmoI as a model GIY-HE, we test mechanisms by which the single active site is used to generate a double-strand break. We show that I-BmoI is partially disordered in the absence of substrate, and that the GIY-YIG domain alone has weak affinity for DNA. Significantly, we show that I-BmoI functions as a monomer at all steps of the reaction pathway and does not transiently dimerize or use sequential transesterification reactions to cleave substrate. Our results are consistent with the I-BmoI DNA-binding domain acting as a molecular anchor to tether the GIY-YIG domain to substrate, permitting rotation of the GIY-YIG domain to sequentially nick each DNA strand. These data highlight the mechanistic differences between monomeric GIY-HEs and dimeric or tetrameric GIY-YIG restriction enzymes, and they have implications for the use of the GIY-YIG domain in genome-editing applications.
Project description:Phage T4 endonuclease II (EndoII), a GIY-YIG endonuclease lacking a carboxy-terminal DNA-binding domain, was subjected to site-directed mutagenesis to investigate roles of individual amino acids in substrate recognition, binding, and catalysis. The structure of EndoII was modeled on that of UvrC. We found catalytic roles for residues in the putative catalytic surface (G49, R57, E118, and N130) similar to those described for I-TevI and UvrC; in addition, these residues were found to be important for substrate recognition and binding. The conserved glycine (G49) and arginine (R57) were essential for normal sequence recognition. Our results are in agreement with a role for these residues in forming the DNA-binding surface and exposing the substrate scissile bond at the active site. The conserved asparagine (N130) and an adjacent proline (P127) likely contribute to positioning the catalytic domain correctly. Enzymes in the EndoII subfamily of GIY-YIG endonucleases share a strongly conserved middle region (MR, residues 72 to 93, likely helical and possibly substituting for heterologous helices in I-TevI and UvrC) and a less strongly conserved N-terminal region (residues 12 to 24). Most of the conserved residues in these two regions appeared to contribute to binding strength without affecting the mode of substrate binding at the catalytic surface. EndoII K76, part of a conserved NUMOD3 DNA-binding motif of homing endonucleases found to overlap the MR, affected both sequence recognition and catalysis, suggesting a more direct involvement in positioning the substrate. Our data thus suggest roles for the MR and residues conserved in GIY-YIG enzymes in recognizing and binding the substrate.
Project description:Targeted manipulation of complex genomes often requires the introduction of a double-strand break at defined locations by site-specific DNA endonucleases. Here, we describe a monomeric nuclease domain derived from GIY-YIG homing endonucleases for genome-editing applications. Fusion of the GIY-YIG nuclease domain to three-member zinc-finger DNA binding domains generated chimeric GIY-zinc finger endonucleases (GIY-ZFEs). Significantly, the I-TevI-derived fusions (Tev-ZFEs) function in vitro as monomers to introduce a double-strand break, and discriminate in vitro and in bacterial and yeast assays against substrates lacking a preferred 5'-CNNNG-3' cleavage motif. The Tev-ZFEs function to induce recombination in a yeast-based assay with activity on par with a homodimeric Zif268 zinc-finger nuclease. We also fused the I-TevI nuclease domain to a catalytically inactive LADGLIDADG homing endonuclease (LHE) scaffold. The monomeric Tev-LHEs are active in vivo and similarly discriminate against substrates lacking the 5'-CNNNG-3' motif. The monomeric Tev-ZFEs and Tev-LHEs are distinct from the FokI-derived zinc-finger nuclease and TAL effector nuclease platforms as the GIY-YIG domain alleviates the requirement to design two nuclease fusions to target a given sequence, highlighting the diversity of nuclease domains with distinctive biochemical properties suitable for genome-editing applications.
Project description:The essential Bacillus anthracis nrdE gene carries a self-splicing group I intron with a putative homing endonuclease belonging to the GIY-YIG family. Here, we show that the nrdE pre-mRNA is spliced and that the homing endonuclease cleaves an intronless nrdE gene 5 nucleotides (nt) upstream of the intron insertion site, producing 2-nt 3' extensions. We also show that the sequence required for efficient cleavage spans at least 4 bp upstream and 31 bp downstream of the cleaved coding strand. The position of the recognition sequence in relation to the cleavage position is as expected for a GIY-YIG homing endonuclease. Interestingly, nrdE genes from several other Bacillaceae were also susceptible to cleavage, with those of Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus epidermidis (nrdE1), B. anthracis, and Bacillus thuringiensis serovar konkukian being better substrates than those of Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus lichenformis, and S. epidermidis (nrdE2). On the other hand, nrdE genes from Lactococcus lactis, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, and Corynebacterium ammoniagenes were not cleaved. Intervening sequences (IVSs) residing in protein-coding genes are often found in enzymes involved in DNA metabolism, and the ribonucleotide reductase nrdE gene is a frequent target for self-splicing IVSs. A comparison of nrdE genes from seven gram-positive low-G+C bacteria, two bacteriophages, and Nocardia farcinica showed five different insertion sites for self-splicing IVSs within the coding region of the nrdE gene.
Project description:The thymidylate synthase gene (thy) (EC 188.8.131.52) of Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage beta 22 has a self-splicing, group I intron inserted into a highly conserved region of the coding sequence. The intron is very similar to one that is inserted 21 bp further downstream in the homologous thymidylate synthase gene (td) of Escherichia coli bacteriophage T4. In contrast, the amino acid sequences of the bacteriophage thymidylate synthases are highly divergent. The beta 22 intron has a fragmentary open reading frame (ORF) that encodes a putative helix-turn-helix DNA-binding motif, similar to one at the carboxyl terminus of the homing endonuclease (I-TevI) encoded by the T4 td intron. The td ORF and the thy ORF fragments are inserted into different regions of their respective intron structures. These results suggest that the thymidylate synthase genes, their introns, and their respective intron-ORFs all have separate evolutionary histories and that the acquisition of the intron could not have occurred by a simple homing event.
Project description:T4 contains two groups of genes with similarity to homing endonucleases, the seg-genes (similarity to endonucleases encoded by group I introns) containing GIY-YIG motifs and the mob-genes (similarity to mobile endonucleases) containing H-N-H motifs. The four seg-genes characterized to date encode homing endonucleases with cleavage sites close to their respective gene loci while none of the mob-genes have been shown to cleave DNA. Of 18 phages screened, only T4 was found to have mobC while mobE genes were found in five additional phages. Interestingly, three phages encoded a seg-like gene (hereby called segH) with a GIY-YIG motif in place of mobC. An additional phage has an unrelated gene called hef (homing endonuclease-like function) in place of the mobE gene. The gene products of both novel genes displayed homing endonuclease activity with cleavage site specificity close to their respective genes. In contrast to intron encoded homing endonucleases, both SegH and Hef can cleave their own DNA as well as DNA from phages without the genes. Both segH and mobE (and most likely hef) can home between phages in mixed infections. We discuss why it might be a selective advantage for phage freestanding homing endonucleases to cleave both HEG-containing and HEG-less genomes.