The Hin recombinase binds to specific sites on DNA and mediates a recombination event that results in DNA inversion. In order to define the DNA-binding domain of the Hin protein two peptides 31 and 52 amino acids long were synthesized. Even though the 31mer encompassed the sequence encoding the putative helix-coil-helix-binding domain, it was not sufficient for binding to the 26-base pair DNA crossover site. However, the 52mer specifically interacted with the site and also effectively inhibited the Hin-mediated recombination reaction. The 52mer bound effectively to both the 26-base pair complete site and to a 14-base pair "half site." Nuclease and chemical protection studies with the 52mer helped to define the DNA base pairs that contributed to the specificity of binding. The synthetic peptide provides opportunities for new approaches to the study of the nature of protein-DNA interaction.

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