|dc.description.abstract||Bacteria employ survival strategies to protect themselves against foreign invaders, including bacteriophages. The ‘immune system’ of bacteria relies mostly on restriction-modification (R-M) systems. The primary role of R-M systems is to protect the host from invading foreign DNA molecules. Three major types of R–M system are found in bacteria, viz.Types I, II and III. Type II R–M systems comprise a separate restriction endonuclease (REase) and a methyltransferase (MTase) that act independently of each other. Type II REases generally recognize palindromic sequences in DNA and cleave within or near their recognition sequences and produce DNA fragments of defined sizes. They have become indispensable tools in molecular biology and have been widely exploited for studying site-specific protein–DNA interactions. Surprisingly, these enzymes share little or no sequence homology among them, though the three-dimensional structures determined to date reveal a common-core motif (‘PD...D/EXK’ motif) with a central β-sheet that is flanked by α-helices on both sides. In the motif, two acidic residues (D and D/E) are important for the metal ion binding and catalysis.
The work presented in this thesis deals with the determination of active site, elucidation of kinetic mechanism and study of evolution of sequence specificity using the well known, R.KpnI, from Klebsiella pneumoniae. The enzyme is a homodimer, which recognizes a palindromic double stranded DNA sequence, GGTAC↓C, and cleaves as shown. Unlike other REases, R.KpnI shows prolific promiscuous DNA cleavage in presence of Mg2+. Surprisingly, Ca2+ completely suppresses the Mg2+ mediated promiscuous activity and induces high fidelity cleavage at the recognition sequence. These unusual properties of R.KpnI led to the characterization of the active site of the enzyme.
This thesis is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 is a general introduction of R-M systems and an overview of the literature on active sites of Type II REases. It deals with discovery, nomenclature and classification followed by description of the enzymes diversity and general features of Type II REases. The different active site folds of the REases have been discussed in detail. The features of sequence specificity and the efforts undertaken to engineer the new specificity in the REases have been dealt at the end of the chapter.
Chapter 2 describes identification and characterization of the R.KpnI active site by bioinformatics analyses, homology modeling and mutational studies. Bioinformatics analyses reveal that R.KpnI contains a ββα-Me-finger fold, which is a characteristic of many HNH-superfamily endonucleases. According to the homology model of R.KpnI, the putative active site residues correspond to the conserved residues present in HNH nucleases. Substitutions of these conserved residues in R.KpnI resulted in loss of the DNA cleavage activity, confirming their importance. This study provides the first experimental evidence for a Type IIP REase that is a member of the HNH superfamily and does not belong to the PD...D/EXK superfamily of nucleases.
In Chapter 3 DNA binding and kinetic analysis of R.KpnI is presented. The metal ions which exhibit disparate pattern of DNA cleavage have no role in DNA recognition. The enzyme binds to both canonical and non-canonical DNA with comparable affinity irrespective of the metal ions used. Further, it was shown that Ca2+-imparted exquisite specificity of the enzyme is at the level of DNA cleavage and not at the binding step. The kinetic constants were obtained through steady-state kinetic analysis of R.KpnI in presence of different metal ions. With the canonical oligonucleotides, the cleavage rate of the enzyme was comparable for both Mg2+- and Mn2+-mediated reactions and was about three times slower with Ca2+. The enzyme discriminates non-canonical sequences poorly from the canonical sequence in Mg2+-mediated reactions unlike any other Type II REases, accounting for its promiscuous behavior. These studies suggest that R.KpnI displays properties akin to that of typical Type II REases and also endonucleases with degenerate specificity for DNA recognition and cleavage.
In chapter 4, two uncommon roles for Zn2+ in R.KpnI are described. Examination of the sequence revealed the presence of a zinc finger (CCCH) motif rarely found in proteins of prokaryotic origin. Biophysical experiments and subsequent mutational analysis showed that the zinc binding motif tightly coordinates zinc to provide a rigid structural framework for the enzyme needed for its function. In addition to this structural scaffold, another atom of zinc binds to the active site to induce high fidelity cleavage and suppress the Mg2+- and Mn2+-mediated promiscuous behavior of the enzyme. This is the first demonstration of distinct structural and catalytic roles for zinc in a REase.
Chapter 5 describes generation of highly sequence specific R.KpnI. Towards this end, site-directed mutants were generated at the putative secondary metal binding site. The DNA binding and cleavage analyses of the mutants at putative secondary metal binding site revealed that the secondary site is not important for primary catalysis and have a role in sequence specificity. A single amino acid change at the D163 position abolished the promiscuous activity of the wt enzyme in the presence of Mg2+ and Mn2+. Thus, a single point mutation converts the promiscuous endonuclease to a high fidelity REase.
In conclusion, the work described in the thesis reveals new information on the REases in general and R.KpnI in particular. Many of the properties of R.KpnI elucidated in this thesis represent hitherto unknown features amongst REases. The presence of an HNH catalytic motif in the enzyme indicates the diversity of active site fold in REases and their distinct origin. Similarly, the high degree of promiscuity exhibited by the enzyme may hint at the evolutionary link between non-specific and highly sequence specific nucleases. The present studies also provide an example for the role of mutations in the evolution of sequence specificity. The utilization of different metal ions for DNA cleavage and the architectural role for Zn2+ in maintaining the structural integrity are other unusual properties of the enzyme.||en_US