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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Nov 1;40(20):10107-15. PubMed; doi 10.1093/nar/gks853

Solitary restriction endonucleases in prokaryotic genomes.

Ershova, A. S.; Karyagina, A. S.; Vasiliev, M. O.; Lyashchuk, A. M.; Lunin, V. G.; Spirin, S. A.; Alexeevski, A. V.

Prokaryotic restriction-modification (R-M) systems defend the host cell from the invasion of a foreign DNA. They comprise two enzymatic activities: specific DNA cleavage activity and DNA methylation activity preventing cleavage. Typically, these activities are provided by two separate enzymes: a DNA methyltransferase (MTase) and a restriction endonuclease (RE). In the absence of a corresponding MTase, an RE of Type II R-M system is highly toxic for the cell. Genes of the R-M system are linked in the genome in the vast majority of annotated cases. There are only a few reported cases in which the genes of MTase and RE from one R-M system are not linked. Nevertheless, a few hundreds solitary RE genes are present in the Restriction Enzyme Database (http://rebase.neb.com) annotations. Using the comparative genomic approach, we analysed 272 solitary RE genes. For 57 solitary RE genes we predicted corresponding MTase genes located distantly in a genome. Of the 272 solitary RE genes, 99 are likely to be fragments of RE genes. Various explanations for the existence of the remaining 116 solitary RE genes are also discussed.


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