Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Academic Editor: Piero R. Bianco
Restriction and modification are two opposing activities that are used to protect bacteria from cellular invasion by DNA (e.g. bacteriophage infection). Restriction activity involves cleavage of the DNA; while modification activity is the mechanism used to "mark" host DNA and involves DNA methylation. The study of Type I restriction enzymes has often been seen as an esoteric exercise and this reflects some of their more unusual properties - non-stoichiometric (non-catalytic) cleavage of the DNA substrate, random cleavage of DNA, a massive ATPase activity, and the ability to both cleave DNA and methylate DNA. Yet these enzymes have been found in many bacteria and are very efficient as a means of protecting bacteria against bacteriophage infection, indicating they are successful enzymes. In this review, we summarise recent work on the mechanisms of action, describe switching of function and review their mechanism of action. We also discuss structural rearrangements and cellular localisation, which provide powerful mechanisms for controlling the enzyme activity. Finally, we speculate as to their involvement in recombination and discuss their relationship to helicase enzymes.