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Cell. 1982 Jan;28(1):155-63.

A symmetrical six-base-pair target site sequence determines Tn10 insertion specificity.


Transposon Tn10 inserts at many sites in the bacterial chromosome, but preferentially inserts at particular hotspots. We believe we have identified the target DNA signal responsible for this specificity. We have determined the DNA sequences of 11 Tn10 insertion sites and identified a particular 6 base pair (bp) symmetrical consensus sequence (GCTNAGC) common to those sites. The sequences at some sites differ from the consensus sequence but only in limited and well defined ways. The sequences at some sites differ from the consensus sequence than do sequences at other sites, and the consensus sequence and closely related sequences are generally absent from potential target regions where Tn10 is known not to insert. Other aspects of the target DNA can significantly influence the efficiency with which a particular target site sequence is used. The 6 bp consensus sequence is symmetrically located within the 9 bp target DNA sequence that is cleaved and duplicated during Tn10 insertion. This juxtaposition of recognition and cleavage sites plus the symmetry of the perfect consensus sequence suggest that the target DNA may be both recognized and cleaved by the symmetrically disposed subunits of a single protein, as suggested for type II restriction endonucleases. There is plausible homology between the consensus sequence and the very ends of Tn10, compatible with recognition of transposon ends and target DNA by the same protein. The sequences of actual insertion sites deviate from the perfect consensus sequence in a way which suggests that the 6 bp specificity determinant may be recognized through protein-DNA contacts along the major groove of the DNA double helix.

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