Site-affinity (or saf) mutations change the specificity of prophage insertion. We have isolated a saf mutation of the bacteriophage λ attachment site by inserting the phage chromosome into and then excisiing it from a secondary host attachment site. This causes reciprocal exchange of two seven base-pair segments (the overlap regions) that lie within the cores of the two sites. Since the two overlap regions differ from each other in nucleotide sequence, the recombinant sites are mutants. We have determined the effect of overlap region homology on recombination. We found that homology promotes integrative and excisive recombination. This suggests that the two overlap regions interact directly during recombination. The pattern of segregation of the saf mutation during site-specific recombination shows that it lies to the right of the point of genetic exchange about 95% of the time. This is a surprising result because λ integrative recombination normally occurs by two staggered, reciprocal single-strand exchanges, one at each edge of the overlap region (Mizuuchi et al., 1981). Since saf lies within the overlap region, we might have expected that the point of genetic exchange would occur to the left of saf as often as to the right. We offer two models to account for this. (1) The mutation alters the location of one of the single-strand exchange points. (2) Efficient and strand-specific processing of mismatched base-pairs changes the expected segregation pattern.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Molecular Biology