enzymes that are part of the restriction-modification systems. They catalyze the endonucleolytic cleavage of dna sequences which lack the species-specific methylation pattern in the host cell's dna. Cleavage yields random or specific double-stranded fragments with terminal 5'-phosphates. The function of restriction enzymes is to destroy any foreign dna that invades the host cell. Most have been studied in bacterial systems, but a few have been found in eukaryotic organisms. They are also used as tools for the systematic dissection and mapping of chromosomes, in the determination of base sequences of DNAs, and have made it possible to splice and recombine genes from one organism into the genome of another. EC 3.21.1.