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J Mol Biol. 1998 Mar 6;276(4):733-44.

The beta protein of phage lambda promotes strand exchange.

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Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Bacteriophage lambda encodes a 28 kDa protein called beta that binds to single-stranded DNA and promotes the renaturation of complementary single strands. beta Protein fails to bind directly to duplex DNA but remains bound to the DNA product of renaturation that beta itself catalyzes. These observations led to an examination of the ability of beta protein to promote strand exchange. beta Protein caused the replacement of a 43-mer oligonucleotide annealed to M13 circular single-stranded DNA by a homologous 63-mer whose 20 extra nucleotide residues were complementary to the adjacent 3' region of M13 DNA. The role of beta protein in this reaction was manifested in several ways: beta protein pushed the exchange through four to eight mismatches, which blocked exchange mediated by spontaneous renaturation and branch migration; beta imposed a polarity on the strand exchange that was lacking in the spontaneous reaction; and beta remained bound to the heteroduplex product of strand exchange. These observations reveal a mechanism by which a protein can drive strand exchange in one direction without using ATP or any other exogenous source of energy.

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