The complete amino acid sequence of the fungus Syncephalastrum racemosum (Sr-) nuclease has been delineated on the basis of protein sequencing of the intact protein and its protease-digested peptides. The resulting 250-residue sequence shows a carbohydrate side chain attached at Asn134 and two half-cystine residues (Cys242 and Cys247) cross-linked to form a small disulphide loop. On the basis of the sequence of Sr-nuclease, a computer search in the sequence database yielded 60% and 48% positional identities with the sequences of Cunninghamella echinulata nuclease C1 and yeast mitochondria nuclease respectively, and very little similarity to those of several known mammalian DNases I. Sequence alignment of the three similar nucleases reveals that the single small disulphide loop is unchanged but the carbohydrate attachment in Sr-nuclease is absent from the other two nucleases. Alignment also shows a highly conserved region harbouring Sr-nuclease His85, which is assigned as one of the essential residues in the active site. The cDNA encoding Sr-nuclease was amplified by using reverse transcriptase-mediated PCR with degenerate primers based on its amino acid sequence. Subsequently, specific primers were synthesized for use in the 3´ and 5´ rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE). Direct sequencing of the RACE products led to the deduction of a 1.1 kb cDNA sequence for Sr-nuclease. The cDNA contains an open reading frame of 320 amino acid residues including a 70-residue putative signal peptide and the 250-residue mature protein. Finally, the recombinant Sr-nuclease was expressed in Escherichia coli strain BL21(DE3) in which the recombinant protein, after solubilization with detergent and renaturation, showed both DNase and RNase activities. The assignment of His85 to the active site was further supported by evidence that the mutant protein Sr-nuclease (H85A), in which His85 was replaced by Ala, was not able to degrade DNA or RNA.

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