The N-terminal domain of Staphylothermus marinus McrB shares structural homology with PUA-like RNA binding proteins.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Struct Biol, Volume 211, Issue 3, p.107572 (2020)


<p>McrBC is a conserved modification-dependent restriction system that in Escherichia coli specifically targets foreign DNA containing methylated cytosines. Crystallographic data show that the N-terminal domain of Escherichia coli McrB binds substrates via a base flipping mechanism. This region is poorly conserved among the plethora of McrB homologs, suggesting that other species may use alternative binding strategies and/or recognize different targets. Here we present the crystal structure of the N-terminal domain from Stayphlothermus marinus McrB (Sm3-180) at 1.92&nbsp;Å, which adopts a PUA-like EVE fold that is closely related to the YTH and ASCH RNA binding domains. Unlike most PUA-like domains, Sm3-180 binds DNA and can associate with different modified substrates. We find the canonical &#39;aromatic cage&#39; binding pocket that confers specificity for methylated bases in other EVE/YTH domains is degenerate and occluded in Sm3-180, which may contribute to its promiscuity in target recognition. Further structural comparison between different PUA-like domains identifies motifs and conformational variations that correlate with the preference for binding either DNA or RNA. Together these data have important implications for PUA-like domain specificity and suggest a broader biological versatility for the McrBC family than previously described.</p>