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Res Microbiol. 2003 May;154(4):277-82.

Prophage insertion sites.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Insertion of viral DNA into host chromosomes is an ancient process essential for propagation in the proviral form. Many present-day bacteriophages insert at specific sites on the host chromosome. Insertion by two coliphage families (lambdoid and P4-like) is compared. For both families, insertion sites frequently lie within tRNA genes. The lambdoid phages insert at anticodon loops, whereas the p4-like phages insert in the TpsiC loops downstream from them. The association of both groups with tRNA genes suggests that the primordial insertion site of both groups may have been within a tRNA gene. The integrase proteins used in phage insertion may have originated at that stage, with subsequent diversification of specificity.

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