Co-Ion Dependence of DNA Nuclease Activity Suggests Hydrophobic Cavitation as a Potential Source of Activation Energy
Journal article, 2001
The source of the activation energy that allows cutting of DNA by restriction enzymes is unclear. A systematic study of the cutting efficiency of the type-II restriction endonuclease EcoRI, with varying background electrolyte ion pair and buffer reported here, shows only a modest dependence of efficiency on cation type. Surprisingly, efficiency does depend strongly on the presumed indifferent anion of the background salt. What emerges is that competition between the background salt anion and the buffer anion for the enzyme and DNA surfaces is crucial. The results are unexpected and counterintuitive from the point of view of conventional electrolyte theory. However, taken together with recent developments in surface chemistry, the results do fall into place and could also suggest a novel mechanism for enzyme activity as an alternative to metal-activated hydrolysis: microscopic cavitation in a hydrophobic pocket might be the source of activation energy.