Structural insights into the promiscuous DNA binding and broad substrate selectivity of fowlpox virus resolvase

Na Li, Ke Shi, Timsi Rao, Surajit Banerjee, Hideki Aihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Fowlpox virus resolvase (Fpr) is an endonuclease that cleaves a broad range of branched DNA structures, including the Holliday junction (HJ), with little sequence-specificity. To better understand the mechanisms underlying its relaxed substrate specificity, we determined the crystal structures of Fpr and that in a novel complex with HJ at 3.1-Å resolution. In the Fpr-HJ complex, two Fpr dimers use several distinct regions to interact with different DNA structural motifs, showing versatility in DNA-binding. Biochemical and solution NMR data support the existence of non-canonical modes of HJ interaction in solution. The binding of Fpr to various DNA motifs are mediated by its flat DNA-binding surface, which is centered on a short loop spanning K61 to I72 and flanked by longer α-helices at the outer edges, and basic side grooves near the dimer interface. Replacing the Fpr loop K61~I72 with a longer loop from Thermus thermophilus RuvC (E71~A87) endows Fpr with an enhanced selectivity toward HJ cleavage but with a target sequence preference distinct from that of RuvC, highlighting a unique role of this loop region in Fpr-HJ interaction. Our work helps explain the broad substrate selectivity of Fpr and suggests a possible mode of its association with poxvirus hairpin telomeres.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number393
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 15 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the University of Minnesota NMR Center for training and assistance during data collection. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant GM118047 to H.A. This work is based upon research conducted at the Northeastern Collaborative Access Team (NE-CAT) beamlines, which are funded by the NIH (NIGMS P30 GM124165). The Pilatus 6 M detector on 24-ID-C beamline is funded by a NIH-ORIP HEI grant (S10 RR029205). This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. Computer resources were provided by the Basic Sciences Computing Laboratory of the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • DNA, Cruciform/chemistry
  • DNA, Viral/chemistry
  • Fowlpox virus/enzymology
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Recombinases/chemistry
  • Substrate Specificity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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