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J Mol Biol. 1983 Oct 15;170(1):19-38.

Site-specific recombination of bacteriophage lambda. The change in topological linking number associated with exchange of DNA strands.


The changes in supercoiling that accompany site-specific recombination have been measured. In each experiment, the substrate was a circle that contained two attachment sites oriented as an inverted repeat; recombination between the sites inverts one segment of the circle with respect to the other. Using conditions developed in the accompanying work, a measurable amount of the recombinant is in the form of unknotted, simple circles. The difference between the topological linking number of this product relative to that of the substrate can be determined directly from the change in mobility during agarose gel electrophoresis. With partially supercoiled substrates, both integrative and excisive recombination are characterized by a unique change in linking number, a relaxation of two topological turns. For excisive recombination, it has been possible to study closed circular substrates that lack supercoils. In this case, changes in linking number of both +2 and -2 are observed. These results are used to evaluate various proposals for synapsis and strand exchange in bacteriophage lambda site-specific recombination.

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