Repair and defence of genome integrity from endogenous and environmental hazard is a primary need for all organisms. Natural selection has driven the evolution of multiple cell pathways to deal with different DNA damaging agents. Failure of such processes can hamper cell functions and induce inheritable mutations, which in humans may cause cancerogenicity or certain genetic syndromes, and ultimately cell death. A special case is that of hyperthermophilic bacteria and archaea, flourishing at temperatures higher than 80 °C, conditions that favor genome instability and thus call for specific, highly efficient or peculiar mechanisms to keep their genome intact and functional. Over the last few years, numerous studies have been performed on the activity, function, regulation, physical and functional interaction of enzymes and proteins from hyperthermophilic microorganisms that are able to bind, repair, bypass damaged DNA, or modify its structure or conformation. The present review is focused on two enzymes that act on DNA catalyzing unique reactions: reverse gyrase and DNA alkyltransferase. Although both enzymes belong to evolutionary highly conserved protein families present in organisms of the three domains (Eucarya, Bacteria and Archaea), recently characterized members from hyperthermophilic archaea show both common and peculiar features.
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