From monomeric to homodimeric endonucleases and back: engineering novel specificity of LAGLIDADG enzymes. Academic Article uri icon


  • Monomeric homing endonucleases of the LAGLIDADG family recognize DNA in a bipartite manner, reflecting the underlying structural assembly of two protein domains (A and B) related by pseudo 2-fold symmetry. This architecture allows for changes in DNA specificity via the distinct combination of these half-site domains. The key to engineering such hybrid proteins lies in the LAGLIDADG two-helix bundle that forms both the domain interface and the endonuclease active site. In this study, we utilize domain A of the monomeric I-DmoI to demonstrate the feasibility of generating functional homodimeric endonucleases that recognize palindromic DNA sequences derived from the original, non-palindromic target. Wild-type I-DmoI domain A is capable of forming a homodimer (H-DmoA) that binds tightly to, but does not cleave efficiently, its anticipated DNA target. Partial restoration of DNA cleavage ability was obtained by re-engineering the LAGLIDADG dimerization interface (H-DmoC). Upon fusing two copies of H-DmoC via a short peptide linker, a novel, site-specific DNA endonuclease was created (H-DmoC2). Like I-DmoI, H-DmoC2 is thermostable and cleaves the new target DNA to generate the predicted 4 nt 3'-OH overhangs but, unlike I-DmoI, H-DmoC2 retains stringent cleavage specificity when substituting Mn2+ for Mg2+ as co-factor. This novel endonuclease allows speculation regarding specificity of monomeric LAGLIDADG proteins, while it supports the evolutionary genesis of these proteins by a gene duplication event.

publication date

  • August 25, 2006