Biochemical Characterization of an Exonuclease from Arabidopsis thaliana Reveals Similarities to the DNA Exonuclease of the Human Werner Syndrome Protein

  • Plchova H
  • Hartung F
  • Puchta H
  • 16


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 19


    Citations of this article.


The human Werner syndrome protein (hWRN-p) possessing DNA helicase and exonuclease activities is essential for genome stability. Plants have no homologue of this bifunctional protein, but surprisingly the Arabidopsis genome contains a small open reading frame (ORF) (AtWRNexo) with homology to the exonuclease domain of hWRN-p. Expression of this ORF in Escherichia coli revealed an exonuclease activity for AtWRN-exo-p with similarities but also some significant differences to hWRN-p. The protein digests recessed strands of DNA duplexes in the 3' --> 5' direction but hardly single-stranded DNA or blunt-ended duplexes. In contrast to the Werner exonuclease, AtWRNexo-p is also able to digest 3'-protruding strands. DNA with recessed 3'-PO4 and 3'-OH termini is degraded to a similar extent. AtWRNexo-p hydrolyzes the 3'-recessed strand termini of duplexes containing mismatched bases. AtWRNexo-p needs the divalent cation Mg2+ for activity, which can be replaced by Mn2+. Apurinic sites, cholesterol adducts, and oxidative DNA damage (such as 8-oxoadenine and 8-oxoguanine) inhibit or block the enzyme. Other DNA modifications, including uracil, hypoxanthine and ethenoadenine, did not inhibit AtWRNexo-p. A mutation of a conserved residue within the exonuclease domain (E135A) completely abolished the exonucleolytic activity. Our results indicate that a type of WRN-like exonuclease activity seems to be a common feature of the DNA metabolism of animals and plants.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Helena Plchova

  • Frank Hartung

  • Holger Puchta

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free