A genetic and functional analysis of the unusually large variable region in the M.AluI DNA-(cytosine C5)-methyltransferase Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Master, S S S; Blumenthal, R M


  • The M.AluI DNA-(cytosine C5)-methyltransferase (5mC methylase) acts on the sequence 5'-AGCT-3'. The amino acid sequences of known 5mC methylases contain ten conserved motifs, with a variable region between Motifs VIII and IX that contains one or more "target-recognizing domains" (TRDs) responsible for DNA sequence specificity. Monospecific 5mC methylases are believed to have only one TRD, while multispecific 5mC methylases have as many as five. M.AluI has the second-largest variable region of all known 5mC methylases, and sequence analysis reveals five candidate TRDs. In testing whether M.AluI is in fact monospecific it was found that AGCT methylation represents only 80-90% of the methylating activity of this enzyme, while control experiments with the enzyme M.HhaI gave no unexplained activity. Because individual TRDs can be deleted from multispecific methylases without general loss of activity, a series of insertion and deletion mutants of the M.AluI variable region were prepared. All deletions that removed more than single amino acids from the variable region caused significant loss of activity; a sensitive in vivo assay for methylase activity based on McrBC restriction suggested that the central portion of the variable region is particularly important. In some cases, multispecific methylases can accommodate a TRD from another multispecific methylase, thereby acquiring an additional specificity. When TRDs were moved from a multispecific methylase into two different locations in the variable region of M.AluI, all hybrid enzymes had greatly reduced activity and no new specificities. M.AluI thus behaves in most respects as a monospecific methylase despite the remarkable size of its variable region.

publication date

  • 1997

published in

start page

  • 14

end page

  • 22


  • 257