1 Department of Chemistry, Technical University of Denmark2 Metalloprotein Chemistry and Engineering, Department of Chemistry, Technical University of Denmark3 MTA-SZTE Bioinorganic Chemistry Research Group4 University of Szeged5 University of Copenhagen6 Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic7 University of Tsukuba8 University of Szeged9 University of Tsukuba
The nuclease domain of colicin E7 metallonuclease (NColE7) contains its active centre at the C-terminus. The mutant ΔN4-NColE7-C* - where the four N-terminal residues including the positively charged K446, R447 and K449 are replaced with eight residues from the GST tag - is catalytically inactive. The crystal structure of this mutant demonstrates that its overall fold is very similar to that of the native NColE7 structure. This implicates the stabilizing effect of the remaining N-terminal sequence on the structure of the C-terminal catalytic site and the essential role of the deleted residues in the mechanism of the catalyzed reaction. Complementary QM/MM calculations on the protein-DNA complexes support the less favourable cleavage by the mutant protein than by NColE7. Furthermore, a water molecule as a possible ligand for the Zn(2+)-ion is proposed to play a role in the catalytic process. These results suggest that the mechanism of the Zn(2+)-containing HNH nucleases needs to be further studied and discussed.