A family history of deoxyribonuclease II: Surprises from Trichinella spiralis and Burkholderia pseudomallei


Deoxyribonuclease IIα (DNase IIα) is an acidic endonuclease found in lysosomes and nuclei, and it is also secreted. Though its Caenorhabditis elegans homolog, NUC-1, is required for digesting DNA of apoptotic cell corpses and dietary DNA, it is not required for viability. However, DNase IIα is required in mice for correct development and viability, because undigested cell corpses lead to lesions throughout the body. Recently, we showed that, in contrast to previous reports, active DNase IIα consists of one contiguous polypeptide. To better analyze DNase II protein structure and determine residues important for activity, extensive database searches were conducted to find distantly related family members. We report 29 new partial or complete homologs from 21 species. Four homologs with differences at the purported active site histidine residue were detected in the parasitic nematodes Trichinella spiralis and Trichinella pseudospiralis. When these mutations were reconstructed in human DNase IIα, the expressed proteins were inactive. DNase II homologs were also identified in non-metazoan species. In particular, the slime-mold Dictyostelium, the protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis, and the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei all contain sequences with significant similarity and identity to previously cloned DNase II family members. We report an analysis of their sequences and implications for DNase II protein structure and evolution.

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