Ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs) are N-glycosylases that remove a specific adenine from the sarcin/ricin loop of the large rRNA in a manner analogous to N-glycosylases that are involved in DNA repair. Some RIPs have been reported to remove adenines from single-stranded DNA and cleave double-stranded supercoiled DNA. The molecular basis for the activity of RIPs on double-stranded DNA is not known. Pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP), a single-chain RIP from Phytolacca americana, cleaves supercoiled DNA into relaxed and linear forms. Double-stranded DNA treated with PAP contains apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) sites due to the removal of adenine. Using an active-site mutant of PAP (PAPx) which does not depurinate rRNA, we present evidence that double-stranded DNA treated with PAPx does not contain AP sites and is not cleaved. These results demonstrate for the first time that PAP cleaves supercoiled double-stranded DNA using the same active site that is required for depurination of rRNA.
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