Nucleic acids research

Substrate specificity of the MUS81-EME2 structure selective endonuclease.

PMID 24371268


MUS81 plays important cellular roles in the restart of stalled replication forks, the resolution of recombination intermediates and in telomere length maintenance. Although the actions of MUS81-EME1 have been extensively investigated, MUS81 is the catalytic subunit of two human structure-selective endonucleases, MUS81-EME1 and MUS81-EME2. Little is presently known about the activities of MUS81-EME2. Here, we have purified MUS81-EME2 and compared its activities with MUS81-EME1. We find that MUS81-EME2 is a more active endonuclease than MUS81-EME1 and exhibits broader substrate specificity. Like MUS81-EME1, MUS81-EME2 cleaves 3'-flaps, replication forks and nicked Holliday junctions, and exhibits limited endonuclease activity with intact Holliday junctions. In contrast to MUS81-EME1, however, MUS81-EME2 cuts D-loop recombination intermediates and in so doing disengages the D-loop structure by cleaving the 3'-invading strand. Additionally, MUS81-EME2 acts on 5'-flap structures to cleave off a duplex arm, in reactions that cannot be promoted by MUS81-EME1. These studies suggest that MUS81-EME1 and MUS81-EME2 exhibit similar and yet distinct DNA structure selectivity, indicating that the two MUS81 complexes may promote different nucleolytic cleavage reactions in vivo.