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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2004 Feb;14(1):50-7.

Structure/function insights into Tn5 transposition.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Biochemistry, 433 Babcock Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Prokaryotic transposon 5 (Tn5) serves as a model system for studying the molecular mechanism of DNA transposition. Elucidation of the X-ray co-crystal structure of Tn5 transposase complexed with a DNA recognition end sequence provided the first three-dimensional picture of an intermediate in a transposition/retroviral integration pathway. The many Tn5 transposase-DNA co-crystal structures now available complement biochemical and genetic studies, allowing a comprehensive and detailed understanding of transposition mechanisms. Specifically, the structures reveal two different types of protein-DNA contacts: cis contacts, required for initial DNA recognition, and trans contacts, required for catalysis. Protein-protein contacts required for synapsis are also seen. Finally, the two divalent metals in the active site of the transposase support a 'two-metal-ion' mechanism for Tn5 transposition.

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