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J Biol Chem. 1984 Feb 10;259(3):1509-14.

Bacteriophage P1 site-specific recombination. Purification and properties of the Cre recombinase protein.


Bacteriophage P1 encodes a site-specific recombination system that consists of a site (loxP) at which recombination occurs and a gene, cre, whose protein product is essential for recombination. The loxP-Cre recombination event can be studied in greater detail by the use of an in vitro system that efficiently carries out recombination between two loxP sites. This paper presents a purification and characterization of the Cre protein (Mr = 35,000), which is the only protein required for the in vitro reaction. No high energy cofactors are needed. The purified Cre protein binds to loxP-containing DNA and makes complexes that are resistant to heparin. Cre efficiently converts 70% of the DNA substrate to products and appears to act stoichiometrically. The action of Cre on a loxP2 supercoiled substrate containing two directly repeated loxP sites results in product molecules that are topologically unlinked. Several models to account for the ability of Cre to produce free supercoiled products are discussed.

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