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EMBO J. 1983;2(7):1055-60.

Transposon-encoded site-specific recombination: nature of the Tn3 DNA sequences which constitute the recombination site res.


The tnpR gene of transposon Tn3 encodes a site-specific recombination enzyme that acts at res, a DNA region adjacent to tnpR, to convert co-integrate intermediates of interreplicon transposition to the normal transposition end-products. We have used two complementary approaches to study the nature of the Tn3 recombination region, res. Firstly, the DNA-binding sites for tnpR protein were determined in DNase I protection experiments. These identified a 120-bp region between the tnpA and tnpR genes that can be subdivided into three separate protein-binding sites. Genetic dissection experiments indicate that few, if any, other sequences in addition to this 120-bp region are required for res function. Moreover, we have shown that the two directly repeated res regions within a molecule are unequal partners in the recombination reaction: a truncated res region, which is unable to recombine with a second identical res region, can recombine efficiently with an intact res region. This demonstration, along with the observation that tnpR/res recombination acts efficiently on directly repeated res regions within a molecule but inefficiently both on inverted res regions in the same molecule and in the fusion reaction between res regions in different molecules, leads us to propose that one-dimensional diffusion (tracking) of tnpR protein along DNA is used to locate an initial res region, and then to bring a second directly repeated res region into a position that allows recombination between the res regions.

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