2Max Plank Research Unit for Structural Molecular Biology, Hamburg, Germany
3Institute of Protein Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, 142290 Pushchino, Moscow Region, Russia
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received March 19, 2009; Revision received April 9, 2009
Nicking endonucleases are a new type of enzymes. Like restriction endonucleases, they recognize short specific DNA sequence and cleave DNA at a fixed position relatively to the recognition sequence. However, unlike restriction endonucleases, nicking endonucleases cleave only one predetermined DNA strand. Until recently, nicking endonucleases were suggested to be naturally mutated restriction endonucleases which had lost their ability to dimerize and as a result the ability to cleave the second strand. We have shown that nicking endonucleases are one of the subunits of heterodimeric restriction endonucleases. Mechanisms used by various restriction endonucleases for double-stranded cleavage, designing of artificial nicking endonucleases on the basis of restriction endonucleases, and application of nicking endonucleases in molecular biology are reviewed.
KEY WORDS: nicking endonuclease, restriction endonuclease, heterodimeric restriction endonuclease