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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2001 Jul 10;201(1):9-14.

What makes the bacteriophage lambda Red system useful for genetic engineering: molecular mechanism and biological function.

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  • Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655, USA. anthony.poteete@umassmed.edu


Recent studies have generated interest in the use of the homologous recombination system of bacteriophage lambda for genetic engineering. The system, called Red, consists primarily of three proteins: lambda exonuclease, which processively digests the 5'-ended strand of a dsDNA end; beta protein, which binds to ssDNA and promotes strand annealing; and gamma protein, which binds to the bacterial RecBCD enzyme and inhibits its activities. These proteins induce a 'hyper-rec' state in Escherichia coli and other bacteria, in which recombination events between DNA species with as little as 40 bp of shared sequence occur at high frequency. Red-mediated recombination in the hyper-rec bacterium proceeds via a number of different pathways, and with the involvement of different sets of bacterial proteins, depending in part on the nature of the recombining DNA species. The role of high-frequency double-strand break repair/recombination in the life cycle of the lambdoid phages is discussed.

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