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Cell. 1985 Jan;40(1):147-58.

Recombination site selection by Tn3 resolvase: topological tests of a tracking mechanism.


In vitro recombination by Tn3 resolvase of plasmids containing two directly repeated recombination (res) sites generates two singly interlinked catenated rings. This simple product catenane structure was maintained over a wide range of substrate supercoil densities and in a reaction mixture in which phage lambda Int-mediated recombination generated its characteristic multiply interlinked forms. Using substrates containing four res sites, we found that resolvase recombined neighboring res sites with high preference. This position effect implies that resolvase searches systematically along the DNA for a partner site. Intervening res sites in the opposite orientation did not prevent translocation. We analyzed the geometric arrangement of the interlocked rings after multiple recombination events in a four-site substrate and the pattern of segregation of nonspecific reporter rings catenated to the standard substrate. The results of these novel topological tests imply that the translocating enzyme may not make continuous contact with the DNA.

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