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This novel total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy-based assay facilitates the simultaneous measurement of the length of the catalytic cycle for hundreds of individual restriction endonuclease (REase) molecules in one experiment. This assay does not require protein labeling and can be carried out with a single imaging channel. In addition, the results of multiple individual experiments can be pooled to generate well-populated dwell-time distributions. Analysis of the resulting dwell-time distributions can help elucidate the DNA cleavage mechanism by revealing the presence of kinetic steps that cannot be directly observed. Example data collected using this assay with the well-studied REase, EcoRV - a dimeric Type IIP restriction endonuclease that cleaves the palindromic sequence GAT↓ATC (where ↓ is the cut site) - are in agreement with prior studies. These results suggest that there are at least three steps in the pathway to DNA cleavage that is initiated by introducing magnesium after EcoRV binds DNA in its absence, with an average rate of 0.17 s-1 for each step.


Candice M Etson, Petar Todorov, Nooshin Shatery Nejad, Nirmala Shrestha, David R Walt. Single-Molecule Dwell-Time Analysis of Restriction Endonuclease-Mediated DNA Cleavage. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2021 Feb 07(168)

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PMID: 33616095

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