The crystal structure of HaeIII methyltransferase convalently complexed to DNA: an extrahelical cytosine and rearranged base pairing

Cell. 1995 Jul 14;82(1):143-53. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(95)90060-8.


Many organisms expand the information content of their genome through enzymatic methylation of cytosine residues. Here we report the 2.8 A crystal structure of a bacterial DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase (DCMtase), M. HaeIII, bound covalently to DNA. In this complex, the substrate cytosine is extruded from the DNA helix and inserted into the active site of the enzyme, as has been observed for another DCMtase, M. HhaI. The DNA is bound in a cleft between the two domains of the protein and is distorted from the characteristic B-form conformation at its recognition sequence. A comparison of structures shows a variation in the mode of DNA recognition: M. HaeIII differs from M. HhaI in that the remaining bases in its recognition sequence undergo an extensive rearrangement in their pairing. In this process, the bases are unstacked, and a gap 8 A long opens in the DNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Composition
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Cytosine / chemistry*
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • DNA-Cytosine Methylases / chemistry*
  • DNA-Cytosine Methylases / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Sequence Alignment


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Cytosine
  • DNA-Cytosine Methylases
  • Cytosine 5-methyltransferase