A DNA helicase, called chloroplast DNA (ctDNA) helicase II, was purified to apparent homogeneity from pea (Pisum sativum). The enzyme contained intrinsic, single-stranded, DNA-dependent ATPase activity and an apparent molecular mass of 78 kD on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The DNA helicase was markedly stimulated by DNA substrates with fork-like replication structures. A 5'-tailed fork was more active than the 3'-tailed fork, which itself was more active than substrates without a fork. The direction of unwinding was 3' to 5' along the bound strand, and it failed to unwind blunt-ended duplex DNA. DNA helicase activity required only ATP or dATP hydrolysis. The enzyme also required a divalent cation (Mg2+>Mn2+>Ca2+) for its unwinding activity and was inhibited at 200 mM KCl or NaCl. This enzyme could be involved in the replication of ctDNA. The DNA major groove-intercalating ligands nogalamycin and daunorubicin were inhibitory to unwinding (Ki approximately 0.85 &mgr;M and 2.2 &mgr;M, respectively) and ATPase (Ki approximately 1.3 &mgr;M and 3.0 &mgr;M, respectively) activities of pea ctDNA helicase II, whereas ellipticine, etoposide (VP-16), and camptothecin had no effect on the enzyme activity. These ligands may be useful in further studies of the mechanisms of chloroplast helicase activities.
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