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A nucleotide-sensing endonuclease from the Gabija bacterial defense system

By Rui Cheng, Fengtao Huang, Hui Wu, Xuelin Lu, Yan Yan, Bingbing Yu, Xionglue Wang, Bin Zhu

Posted 20 Dec 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.18.423425

The arms race between bacteria and phages has led to the development of exquisite bacterial defense systems including a number of uncharacterized systems distinct from the well-known Restriction-Modification and CRISPR/Cas systems. Here, we report functional analyses of the GajA protein from the newly predicted Gabija system. The GajA protein is revealed as an endonuclease unique in that: 1. It may function as a restriction enzyme or a site-specific nicking enzyme, depending on the arrangement of the recognition sequences; 2. Its activity is strictly regulated by nucleotides concentration. NTP and dNTP at physiological concentrations can fully inhibited the robust DNA cleavage activity of GajA. Interestingly, the nucleotide inhibition is mediated by an ATPase-like domain, which usually hydrolyzes ATP to stimulate the DNA cleavage when associated with other nucleases. These features suggested the mechanism of the Gabija defense in which an endonuclease activity was suppressed at normal condition, while activated by the depletion of NTP and dNTP upon the replication and transcription by invaded phages. This work highlights a concise strategy to utilize a single protein for phage resistance via nucleotide regulatory.

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