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An enzyme was isolated from a eucaryotic, Chlorella-like green alga infected with the virus PBCV-1 which exhibits type I1 restriction endonuclease activity. The enzyme recognized the sequence GATC and cleaved DNA 5' to the G. Methylation of deoxyadenosine in the GATC sequence inhibited enzyme activity. In vitro the enzyme cleaved host Chlorella nuclear DNA but not viral DNA because host DNA contains GATC and PBCV-1 DNA contains GmATC sequences. PBCV-1 DNA is probably methylated in vivo by the PBCV-1-induced methyltransferase described elsewhere (Y. Xia and J. L. Van Etten, Mol. Cell. Biol. 6:144-1445). Restriction endonuclease activity was first detected 30 to 60 min after viral infection; the appearance of enzyme activity required de novo protein synthesis, and the enzyme is probably virus encoded. Appearance of enzyme activity coincided with the onset of host DNA degradation after PBCV-1 infection. We propose that the PBCV-1-induced restriction endonuclease participates in host DNA degradation and is part of a virus-induced restriction and modification system in PBCV-1-infected Chlorella cells.