Direct identification of the active-site nucleophile in a DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase

Biochemistry. 1991 Nov 19;30(46):11018-25. doi: 10.1021/bi00110a002.


The overproduction, purification, and determination of the active-site catalytic nucleophile of the DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase (DCMtase) enzyme M.HaeIII are reported. Incubation of purified M.HaeIII with an oligodeoxynucleotide specifically modified with the mechanism-based inhibitor 5-fluoro-2'-deoxycytidine [Osterman, D. G., et al. (1988) Biochemistry 27, 5204-5210], in the presence of the cofactor S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet), resulted in the formation of a covalent DNA-M.HaeIII complex, which was purified to homogeneity. Characterization of the intact complex showed it to consist of one molecule of the FdC-containing duplex oligonucleotide, one molecule of M.HaeIII, and one methyl group derived from AdoMet. Exhaustive proteolysis, reduction, and alkylation of the DNA-M.HaeIII complex led to the isolation of two DNA-bound peptides--one each from treatment with Pronase or trypsin--which were subjected to peptide sequencing in order to identify the DNA attachment site. Both peptides were derived from the region of M.HaeIII containing a Pro-Cys sequence that is conserved in all known DCMtases. At the position of this conserved Cys residue (Cys71), in the sequence of each peptide, was found an unidentified amino acid residue; all other amino acid residues were in accord with the known sequence. It is thus concluded that Cys71 of M.HaeIII forms a covalent bond to DNA during catalytic methyl transfer. This finding represents a direct experimental verification for the hypothesis that the conserved Cys residue of DCMtases is the catalytic nucleophile [Wu, J. C., & Santi, D. V. (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 4778-4786].(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amines / chemistry
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Catalysis
  • Cysteine / chemistry
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / biosynthesis
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • Haemophilus / enzymology
  • Haemophilus / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Proline / chemistry


  • Amines
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proline
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases
  • Cysteine