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Nucleic Acids Res. Mar 11, 1989; 17(5): 1907–1914.
PMCID: PMC317532

Transfer RNA genes frequently serve as integration sites for prokaryotic genetic elements.


The DNA sequences were determined at the boundaries of the integrated copy of the archaebacterial genetic element SSV1. A 44 bp sequence present as a single copy on the 15.5 kb circular SSV1 DNA flanked the integrated copy as a direct DNA sequence repeat, suggesting that SSV1 integration occurred by recombination between this 44 bp SSV1 sequence and an identical sequence on the bacterial chromosome. At the left attachment site, a region encompassing the 44 bp attachment core sequence and the 31 nucleotides upstream of it displayed all characteristics expected for an arginine tRNA gene. An analysis of published attachment site sequences of other systems revealed that tRNA genes also constitute the bacterial attachment site in the case of three temperate phages and two transmissible plasmids in eubacteria, indicating a widespread occurrence of tRNA genes as integration target sites. This finding may be important for the understanding of mechanisms and evolution of site-specific recombination.

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