Molecular model of a C-terminal truncated variant of homodimeric Leishmania infantum EndoG in complex with two double-stranded DNA molecules. This image pays homage to Irving Geis (1908-1997).
Oliva C, Sanchez-Murcia PA, Rico E, Bravo A, Menendez M, Gago F, Jimenez-Ruiz A.
Nucleic Acids Res2017 Sep; 45: 9030.
Mitochondrial endonuclease G from Leishmania infantum (LiEndoG) participates in the degradation of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) during parasite cell death and is catalytically inactive at a pH of 8.0 or above. The presence, in the primary sequence, of an acidic amino acid-rich insertion exclusive to trypanosomatids and its spatial position in a homology-built model of LiEndoG led us to postulate that this peptide stretch might act as a pH sensor for self-inhibition. We found that a LiEndoG variant lacking residues 145-180 is indeed far more active than its wild-type counterpart at pH values >7.0. In addition, we discovered that (i) LiEndoG exists as a homodimer, (ii) replacement of Ser211 in the active-site SRGH motif with the canonical aspartate from the DRGH motif of other nucleases leads to a catalytically deficient enzyme, (iii) the activity of the S211D variant can be restored upon the concomitant replacement of Ala247 with Arg and (iv) a C-terminal extension is responsible for the observed preferential cleavage of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and ssDNA-dsDNA junctions. Taken together, our results support the view that LiEndoG is a multidomain molecular machine whose nuclease activity can be subtly modulated or even abrogated through architectural changes brought about by environmental conditions and interaction with other binding partners.