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Cell. 1986 Feb 28;44(4):521-33.

Universal code equivalent of a yeast mitochondrial intron reading frame is expressed into E. coli as a specific double strand endonuclease.


The intron of the mitochondrial 21S rRNA gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (r1 intron) possesses a 235 codon long internal open reading frame (r1 ORF) whose translation product determines the duplicative transposition of that intron during crosses between intron-plus strains (omega+) and intron-minus ones (omega-). Using site-directed mutagenesis, we have constructed a universal code equivalent of the r1 ORF that, under appropriate promoter control, allows the overexpression in E. coli of a protein identical to the mitochondrial intron encoded "transposase". This protein exhibits a double strand endonuclease activity specific for the omega- site. This finding demonstrates, for the first time, the enzymatic activity of an intron encoded protein whose function is to promote the spreading of that intron by generating double strand breaks at a specific sequence within a gene.

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