Structural and biochemical characterization of the mitomycin C repair exonuclease MrfB

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Mitomycin C (MMC) repair factor A ( mrfA ) and factor B ( mrfB ), encode a conserved helicase and exonuclease that repair DNA damage in the soil-dwelling bacterium Bacillus subtilis . Here we have focused on the characterization of MrfB, a DEDDh exonuclease in the DnaQ superfamily. We solved the structure of the exonuclease core of MrfB to a resolution of 2.1 Å, in what appears to be an inactive state. In this conformation, a predicted α-helix containing the catalytic DEDDh residue Asp172 adopts a random coil, which moves Asp172 away from the active site and results in the occupancy of only one of the two catalytic Mg 2+ ions. We propose that MrfB resides in this inactive state until it interacts with DNA to become activated. By comparing our structure to an AlphaFold prediction as well as other DnaQ- family structures, we located residues hypothesized to be important for exonuclease function. Using exonuclease assays we show that MrfB is a Mg 2+ -dependent 3’-5’ DNA exonuclease. We show that Leu113 aids in coordinating the 3’ end of the DNA substrate, and that a basic loop is important for substrate binding. This work provides insight into the function of a recently discovered bacterial exonuclease important for the repair of MMC- induced DNA adducts.


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