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Perpetuating the homing endonuclease life cycle: identification of mutations that modulate and change I-TevI cleavage preference.

ABSTRACT: 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.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC5009752 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01


REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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