The tRNA Lys anticodon nuclease PrrC is associated in latent form with the type Ic DNA restriction endonuclease EcoprrI and activated by a phage T4-encoded inhibitor of EcoprrI. The activation also requires the hydrolysis of GTP and presence of dTTP and is inhibited by ATP. The N-proximal NTPase domain of PrrC has been implicated in relaying the activating signal to a C-proximal anticodon nuclease site by interacting with the requisite nucleotide cofactors [Amitsur et al. (2003) Mol. Microbiol., 50, 129-143]. Means described here to bypass PrrC's self-limiting translation and thermal instability allowed purifying an active mutant form of the protein, demonstrating its oligomeric structure and confirming its anticipated interactions with the nucleotide cofactors of the activation reaction. Mutagenesis and chemical rescue data shown implicate the C-proximal Arg 320, Glu 324 and, possibly, His 356 in anticodon nuclease catalysis. This triad exists in all the known PrrC homologs but only some of them feature residues needed for tRNA Lys recognition by the Escherichia coli prototype. The differential conservation and consistent genetic linkage of the PrrC proteins with EcoprrI homologs portray them as a family of restriction RNases of diverse substrate specificities that are mobilized when an associated DNA restriction nuclease is compromised.