Restriction enzymes or restriction endonucleases (RE) are the enzymes that are found in the bacteria and are harvested from them for their use in research and commercial aspects. These enzymes cut the deoxyribonucleotide (DNA) at specific nucleotide sequences and the biological function of these enzymes is to protect cells from foreign DNA . Nomeclature for these enzymes is based on the first letter of the genus followed by first two letters of the species and name of the bacteria of origin. These enzymes find applications in various research activities involving molecular biology techniques.
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For instance, these enzymes are used as key reagents in processes such as restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), genomic mapping, several recombinant procedures and DNA sequencing. There are four classes of restriction endonucleases namely types I, II, III and IV of which class II enzymes are the most popular and more useful as compared to others. The reason being the specific determination of the DNA sequences and generate termini with 5’ phosphate and 3’ hydroxyl groups and are capable of recognizing non-palindromic sequences. There has been continuous evolution of the new prototype activities that render continuous updates about new recognition sites along with the commercial availability. REBASE is such one database that provides monthly updates about the above mentioned factors.
Till date more than 10,000 bacteria are screened for the presence of restriction enzymes and currently there are more than 2,500 restriction enzymes have been discovered along with over 250 distinct specificities in sequences. The microorganisms that produce RE also produce DNA methyltransferases and this feature protects their own DNA from cleavage.
These enzymes are used in conventional cloning, deciphering epigenetic modifications, construction of DNA...