Translocation-independent dimerization of the EcoKI endonuclease visualized by atomic force microscopy

T Berge, D J Ellis, D T F Dryden, J M Edwardson, Robert M. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bacterial type I restriction/modification systems are capable of performing multiple actions in response to the methylation pattern on their DNA recognition sequences. The enzymes making up these systems serve to protect the bacterial cells against viral infection by binding to their recognition sequences on the invading DNA and degrading it after extensive ATP-driven translocation, DNA cleavage has been thought to occur as the result of a collision between two translocating enzyme complexes. Using atomic force microscopy (AFM), we show here that EcoKI dimerizes rapidly when bound to a plasmid containing two recognition sites for the enzyme. Dimerization proceeds in the absence of ATP and is also seen with an EcoKI mutant (K477R) that is unable to translocate DNA. Only monomers are seen when the enzyme complex binds to a plasmid containing a single recognition site. Based on our results, we propose that the binding of EcoKI to specific DNA target sequences is accompanied by a conformational change that leads rapidly to dimerization. This event is followed by ATP-dependent translocation and cleavage of the DNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-484
Number of pages6
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000


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