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EMBO J. 1999 Mar 1;18(5):1407-14.

Mutants of Tn3 resolvase which do not require accessory binding sites for recombination activity.

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Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, 56 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow G11 6NU, United Kingdom.


Tn3 resolvase promotes site-specific recombination between two res sites, each of which has three resolvase dimer-binding sites. Catalysis of DNA-strand cleavage and rejoining occurs at binding site I, but binding sites II and III are required for recombination. We used an in vivo screen to detect resolvase mutants that were active on res sites with binding sites II and III deleted (that is, only site I remaining). Mutations of amino acids Asp102 (D102) or Met103 (M103) were sufficient to permit catalysis of recombination between site I and a full res, but not between two copies of site I. A double mutant resolvase, with a D102Y mutation and an additional activating mutation at Glu124 (E124Q), recombined substrates containing only two copies of site I, in vivo and in vitro. In these novel site Ixsite I reactions, product topology is no longer restricted to the normal simple catenane, indicating synapsis by random collision. Furthermore, the mutants have lost the normal specificity for directly repeated sites and supercoiled substrates; that is, they promote recombination between pairs of res sites in linear molecules, or in inverted repeat in a supercoiled molecule, or in separate molecules.

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