The type I restriction endonuclease EcoR124I, couples ATP hydrolysis to bidirectional DNA translocation

Piero R. Bianco, Elizabeth M. Hurley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Type I restriction endonuclease holoenzymes contain methylase (M), restriction (R) and specificity (S) subunits, present in an M2:R 2:S1 stoichiometry. These enzymes bind to specific DNA sequences and translocate dsDNA in an ATP-dependent manner toward the holoenzyme anchored at the recognition sequence. Once translocation is impeded, DNA restriction, which functions to protect the host cell from invading DNA, takes place. Translocation and DNA cleavage are afforded by the two diametrically opposed R-subunits. To gain insight into the mechanism of translocation, a detailed characterization of the ATPase activity of EcoR124I was done. Results show that following recognition sequence binding, ATP hydrolysis-coupled, bidirectional DNA translocation by EcoR124I ensues, with the R-subunits transiently disengaging, on average, every 515 bp. Macroscopic processivity of 2031(±184) bp is maintained, as the R-subunits remain in close proximity to the DNA through association with the methyltransferase. Transient uncoupling of ATP hydrolysis from translocation results in 3.1(±0.4) ATP molecules being hydrolyzed per base-pair translocated per R-subunit. This is the first clear demonstration of the coupling of ATP hydrolysis to dsDNA translocation, albeit inefficient. Once translocation is impeded on supercoiled DNA, the DNA is cleaved. DNA cleavage inactivates the EcoR124I holoenzyme partially and reversibly, which explains the stoichiometric behaviour of type I restriction enzymes. Inactivated holoenzyme remains bound to the DNA at the recognition sequence and immediately releases the nascent ends. The release of nascent ends was demonstrated using a novel, fluorescence-based, real-time assay that takes advantage of the ability of the Escherichia coli RecBCD enzyme to unwind restricted dsDNA. The resulting unwinding of EcoR124I-restricted DNA by RecBCD reveals coordination between the restriction-modification and recombination systems that functions to destroy invading DNA efficiently. In addition, we demonstrate the displacement of EcoR124I following DNA cleavage by the translocating RecBCD enzyme, resulting in the restoration of catalytic function to EcoR124I.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-859
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 30 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • ATPase
  • DNA motor protein
  • Restriction modification
  • Type I restriction enzyme
  • dsDNA translocase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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