- restriction endonucleases
(= restriction enzymes)Class of bacterial enzymes that cut DNA at specific sites. In bacteria their function is to destroy foreign DNA, such as that of bacteriophages (host DNA is specifically modified at these sites). Type I restriction endonucleases occur as a complex with the methylase and a polypeptide that binds to the recognition site on DNA. They are often not very specific and cut at a remote site. Type II restriction endonucleases are the classic experimental tools. They have very specific recognition and cutting sites. The recognition sites are short, 4-8 nucleotides, and are usually palindromic sequences. Because both strands have the same sequence running in opposite directions the enzymes make double-stranded breaks, which, if the site of cleavage is off-centre, generates fragments with short single-stranded tails; these can hybridize to the tails of other fragments and are called sticky ends. They are generally named according to the bacterium from which they were isolated (first letter of genus name and the first two letters of the specific name). The bacterial strain is identified next and multiple enzymes are given Roman numerals. For example the two enzymes isolated from the R strain of E. coli are designated Eco RI and Eco RII.
Dictionary of molecular biology. 2004.