- A single-strand-specific endonuclease from mung bean sprouts is widely usedin molecular biology. However, the biological role of this enzyme is unknown. We studied the spatial and temporal activity of single-stranded DNA endonucleases in mung bean seedling by following enzyme activity that linearizes supercoiled plasmid DNA, a characteristic of this type of enzyme. The formation of a linear molecule from supercoiled DNA was found to occur in two distinguishable steps. The first, which involves introducing a nick into the supercoiled DNA and relaxing it, is very rapid and complete within a few seconds. The second step of cleaving the opposite strand to generate a unit-length linear duplex DNA is a relatively slow process. Analysis of the DNA cleavage sites showed the nuclease preferentially cuts supercoiled DNA at an AT-rich region. Varying levels of nuclease activity could be detected in different tissues of the mung bean seedling. The highest activity was in the root tip and was correlated with histone H1 kinase activity. This implies a link between nuclease activity and cell division. Induction of cell division in mung bean hypocotyls with auxin promoted formation of root primordia and considerably increased the activity of single-stranded DNA endonucleases. The nuclease activity and histone H1 kinase activity were reduced in mung bean cuttings treated with hydroxyurea, but not in cuttings treated with oryzalin. The potential function of single-stranded DNA endonucleases is discussed.