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J Mol Biol. 1996 Nov 8;263(4):582-96.

Bypass of DNA heterologies during RuvAB-mediated three- and four-strand branch migration.

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Imperial Cancer Research Fund, South Mimms, Herts, UK.


During general genetic recombination and recombinational DNA repair, DNA damages and heterologies are often encountered which must be efficiently processed by the cellular recombination machinery. In RecA-mediated three-strand exchange reactions between single-stranded circular and linear duplex DNA, or four-strand exchange reactions between gapped circular and linear duplex DNA, heterologies can only be bypassed in vitro when they are short in length and are followed by homologous DNA downstream. Larger DNA inserts block RecA-mediated strand exchange, indicating that effective bypass requires other components of the recombination machinery. The RuvA and RuvB proteins of Escherichia coli form an important part of this machinery. In this work, we have analysed the ability of RuvA and RuvB to bypass large tracts of DNA heterology in both three- and four-strand exchange reactions, using recombination intermediates made by the E. coli RecA protein. Under optimal reaction conditions for RuvAB, up to 1000 bp of DNA heterology can by bypassed in three-strand reactions and 300 bp of DNA heterology can be bypassed in four-strand reactions. Whereas high concentrations of RuvB (in the absence of RuvA) can promote homologous branch migration, we find that RuvB alone is unable to catalyse heterologous bypass, indicating an essential role for both proteins in homologous recombination and recombinational DNA repair processes. Under certain conditions, the bypass of heterology is stimulated by the single-strand binding protein SSB.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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