Database searches indicated that the genome of Bacillus subtilis contains three different genes encoding RNase H homologues. The ypdQ gene encodes an RNase HI homologue with 132 amino acid residues, whereas the rnh and ysgB genes encode RNase HII homologues with 255 and 313 amino acid residues, respectively. RNases HI and HII show no significant sequence similarity. These genes were individually expressed in Escherichia coli; the recombinant proteins were purified, and their enzymatic properties were compared with those of E. coli RNases HI and HII. We found that the ypdQ gene product showed no RNase H activity. The 2.2 kb pair genomic DNA containing this gene did not suppress the RNase H deficiency of an E. coli rnhA mutant, indicating that this gene product shows no RNase H activity in vivo as well. In contrast, the rnh (rnhB) gene product (RNase HII) showed a preference for Mn2+, as did E. coli RNase HII, whereas the ysgB (rnhC) gene product (RNase HIII) exhibited a Mg2+-dependent RNase H activity. Oligomeric substrates digested with these enzymes indicate similar recognition of these substrates by B. subtilis and E. coli RNases HII. Likewise, B. subtilis RNase HIII and E. coli RNase HI have generated similar products. These results suggest that B. subtilis RNases HII and HIII may be functionally similar to E. coli RNases HII and HI, respectively. We propose that Mn2+-dependent RNase HII is universally present in various organisms and Mg2+-dependent RNase HIII, which may have evolved from RNase HII, functions as a substitute for RNase HI.
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