Main content area

Biochemical and mutagenic analysis of I-CreII reveals distinct but important roles for both the H-N-H and GIY-YIG motifs

Corina, Laura E., Qiu, Weihua, Desai, Ami, Herrin, David L.
Nucleic acids research 2009 v.37 no.17 pp. 5810-5821
DNA damage, alanine, asparagine, colicins, enzymes, histidine, introns, leaves, mutagens, supercoiled DNA
Homing endonucleases typically contain one of four conserved catalytic motifs, and other elements that confer tight DNA binding. I-CreII, which catalyzes homing of the Cr.psbA4 intron, is unusual in containing two potential catalytic motifs, H-N-H and GIY-YIG. Previously, we showed that cleavage by I-CreII leaves ends (2-nt 3' overhangs) that are characteristic of GIY-YIG endonucleases, yet it has a relaxed metal requirement like H-N-H enzymes. Here we show that I-CreII can bind DNA without an added metal ion, and that it binds as a monomer, akin to GIY-YIG enzymes. Moreover, cleavage of supercoiled DNA, and estimates of strand-specific cleavage rates, suggest that I-CreII uses a sequential cleavage mechanism. Alanine substitution of a number of residues in the GIY-YIG motif, however, did not block cleavage activity, although DNA binding was substantially reduced in several variants. Substitution of conserved histidines in the H-N-H motif resulted in variants that did not promote DNA cleavage, but retained high-affinity DNA binding--thus identifying it as the catalytic motif. Unlike the non-specific H-N-H colicins, however; substitution of the conserved asparagine substantially reduced DNA binding (though not the ability to promote cleavage). These results indicate that, in I-CreII, two catalytic motifs have evolved to play important roles in specific DNA binding. The data also indicate that only the H-N-H motif has retained catalytic ability.