Hybrid nucleases consisting of an oligonucleotide fused to a unique site on the relatively nonspecific phosphodiesterase staphylococcal nuclease have been shown to sequence specifically cleave DNA. We have introduced mutations into the binding pocket of the nuclease which lower the kcat/Km of the enzyme. Hybrid nucleases generated from these mutants sequence selectively hydrolyze single-stranded DNA in a catalytic fashion, and under a much wider range of conditions than was previously possible. One such hybrid nuclease (Y113A, K116C) was able to site selectively cleave single-stranded M13mp7 DNA (7214 nt), primarily at one phosphodiester bond. Another hybrid nuclease (Y113A, L37A, K116C) catalyzed the hydrolysis of a 78-nt DNA substrate with a kcat of 1.2 min-1 and a Km of 120 nM. The effects of variations in the length and sequence of the oligonucleotide binding region were examined, as were changes in the length of the tether between the oligonucleotide and the enzyme. Cleavage specificity was also assayed as a function of substrate DNA primary and secondary structure and added poly(dA).
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