The significance of distance and orientation of restriction endonuclease recognition sites in viral DNA genomes

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 1995 Aug;17(1-2):177-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.1995.tb00200.x.


Studies on phage T3 and T7 have shown that these viruses avoid restriction not only by the phage-coded Ocr (and S-adenosylmethionine hydrolase) protein functions or by the complete loss of specific recognition sites for certain restriction endonucleases from their genomes, but also that there are two additional modes: resistance towards EcoP15 (which recognizes a non-symmetrical sequence) is achieved by an identical orientation of all the recognition sites in the virus genome (strand bias) and in the case of EcoRII by the extreme reduction in number and thereby greater distance between recognition sites in the genome. These observations led to the discovery that certain restriction endonucleases require the simultaneous cooperation with two DNA sites for their function, as well as to the ongoing elucidation of the molecular modes of action of these enzymes. Type II and type III enzymes display fundamentally different mechanisms of protein-DNA interaction. For EcoRII we favor a model of simultaneous binding of two DNA sites to a dimeric enzyme molecule (neighbouring sites of the same, looping, DNA molecule or sites located on different DNA molecules), while the action of EcoP15 seems to conform with a tracking-collision model of two enzyme molecules bound to inversely oriented recognition sites. In addition to podoviruses T3 and T7, strand bias of recognition sequences for different type III DNA modification-restriction enzymes is also observed in the inoviruses M13, IKE and PF3.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage T3 / genetics*
  • Bacteriophage T7 / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific / chemistry*
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type III Site-Specific / chemistry*
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Molecular Sequence Data


  • DNA, Viral
  • endodeoxyribonuclease EcoP15I
  • CCWGG-specific type II deoxyribonucleases
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type III Site-Specific

Associated data

  • GENBANK/J02459
  • GENBANK/J02518
  • GENBANK/L10328
  • GENBANK/M11912
  • GENBANK/M14784
  • GENBANK/M17233
  • GENBANK/V01146
  • GENBANK/X00411
  • GENBANK/X02139
  • GENBANK/X17255