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EMBO J. 1992 Jan;11(1):233-40.

Recombination of constant and variable modules alters DNA sequence recognition by type IC restriction-modification enzymes.

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Department of Microbiology, Basel University, Switzerland.


EcoR124 and EcoDXXI are allelic type I restriction-modification (R-M) systems whose specificity genes consist of common structural elements: two variable regions are separated by a constant, homologous region containing a number of repetitive sequence elements. In vitro recombination of variable and constant elements has led to fully active, hybrid R-M systems exhibiting new and predictable target site specificities. Methylation of synthetic DNA sequences with purified, hybrid modification methylases was used to confirm the proposed recognition sequences. The results clearly demonstrate the correlation between protein domains and target site specificity. Our data suggest that a bacterial population may switch the recognition sequences of its type I R-M system by single recombination events and thus is able to maintain a prokaryotic analogue of the immune system of variable specificity.

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