Structural and evolutionary classification of Type II restriction enzymes based on theoretical and experimental analyses.

Research paper by Jerzy J Orlowski, Janusz M JM Bujnicki

Indexed on: 06 May '08Published on: 06 May '08Published in: Nucleic acids research


For a very long time, Type II restriction enzymes (REases) have been a paradigm of ORFans: proteins with no detectable similarity to each other and to any other protein in the database, despite common cellular and biochemical function. Crystallographic analyses published until January 2008 provided high-resolution structures for only 28 of 1637 Type II REase sequences available in the Restriction Enzyme database (REBASE). Among these structures, all but two possess catalytic domains with the common PD-(D/E)XK nuclease fold. Two structures are unrelated to the others: R.BfiI exhibits the phospholipase D (PLD) fold, while R.PabI has a new fold termed 'half-pipe'. Thus far, bioinformatic studies supported by site-directed mutagenesis have extended the number of tentatively assigned REase folds to five (now including also GIY-YIG and HNH folds identified earlier in homing endonucleases) and provided structural predictions for dozens of REase sequences without experimentally solved structures. Here, we present a comprehensive study of all Type II REase sequences available in REBASE together with their homologs detectable in the nonredundant and environmental samples databases at the NCBI. We present the summary and critical evaluation of structural assignments and predictions reported earlier, new classification of all REase sequences into families, domain architecture analysis and new predictions of three-dimensional folds. Among 289 experimentally characterized (not putative) Type II REases, whose apparently full-length sequences are available in REBASE, we assign 199 (69%) to contain the PD-(D/E)XK domain. The HNH domain is the second most common, with 24 (8%) members. When putative REases are taken into account, the fraction of PD-(D/E)XK and HNH folds changes to 48% and 30%, respectively. Fifty-six characterized (and 521 predicted) REases remain unassigned to any of the five REase folds identified so far, and may exhibit new architectures. These enzymes are proposed as the most interesting targets for structure determination by high-resolution experimental methods. Our analysis provides the first comprehensive map of sequence-structure relationships among Type II REases and will help to focus the efforts of structural and functional genomics of this large and biotechnologically important class of enzymes.