The genease activity of mung bean nuclease: fact or fiction?
The action of Mung Bean Nuclease (MBN) on DNA makes it possible to clone intact gene fragments from genes of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium. This “genease” activity has provided a foundation for further investigation of the coding elements of the Plasmodium genome. MBN has been reported to cleave genomic DNA of Plasmodium preferentially at positions before and after genes, but not within gene coding regions. This mechanism has overcome the difficulty encountered in obtaining genes with low expression levels because the cleavage mechanism of the enzyme yields sequences of genes from genomic DNA rather than mRNA. However, as potentially useful as MBN may be, evidence to support its genease activity comes from analysis of a limited number of genes. It is not clear whether this mechanism is specific to certain genes or species of Plasmodia or whether it is a general cleavage mechanism for Plasmodium DNA .There have also been some projects (Nomura et al., 2001;van Lin, Janse, and Waters, 2000) which have identified MBN generated fragments which contain fragments of genes with both introns and exons, rather than the intact genes expected from MBN-digestion of genomic DNA, which raises concerns about the efficiency of the MBN mechanism in generating complete genes.Using a large-scale, whole genome mapping approach, 7242 MBN generated genome survey sequences (GSSs) have been mapped to determine their position relative to coding sequences within the complete genome sequences of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and the incomplete genome of a rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei. The location of MBN cleavage sites was determined with respect to coding regions in orthologous genes, non-coding intergenic regions and exon-intron boundaries in these two species of Plasmodium. The survey illustrates that for P. falciparum 79% of GSSs had at least one terminal mapping within an ortholog coding sequence and 85% of GSSs which overlapped coding sequence boundaries mapped within 50 bp of the start or end of the gene. Similarly, despite the partial nature of P.berghei genome sequence information, 73% of P.berghei GSSs had at least one terminal mapping within an ortholog coding sequence and 37% of these mapped between 0-50 bp of the start or end of the gene. This indicates that a larger percentage of cleavage sites in both P.falciparum and P.berghei were found proximal to coding regions. Furthermore, 86% of P.falciparum GSSs had at least one terminal mapping within a coding exon and 85% of GSSs which overlapped exon-intron boundaries mapped within 50bp of the exon start and end site. The fact that 11% of GSSs mapped completely to intronic regions, suggests that some introns contain specific cleavage sites sensitive to cleavage and this also indicates that MBN cleavage of Plasmodium DNA does not always yield complete exons. Finally, the results presented herein were obtained from analysis of several thousand Plasmodium genes which have different coding sequences, in different locations on individual chromosomes/contigs in two different species of Plasmodium. Therefore it appears that the MBN mechanism is neither species specific nor is it limited to specific genes.