An endonuclease stimulated by manganese or calcium ions was isolated from Bacillus subtilis. This enzyme attacked double- or single-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid from a variety of sources, including B. subtilis, and was purified from the material released into the medium during protoplast formation. The enzyme appeared as a single peak after glycerol gradient centrifugation and comprised approximately 30 to 35% of the protein in the most purified preparations, as estimated by gel electrophoresis. It had a molecular weight of about 46,000. The mode of action of the enzyme was endonucleolytic, and circular deoxyribonucleic acid was readily cleaved. The enzyme introduced a limited number of both double- and single-strand breaks into native deoxyribonucleic acid, generally yielding products of 1 X 10(6) daltons or more in size. The reasons for this limitation of cleavage were not clear. The activity of the enzyme was inhibited by low levels of Cu2+, Co2+, Hg2+, and Zn2+. It was also inhibited by high concentrations of NaCl. A role for this enzyme in bacterial transormation is suggested
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