DNA Recombination

An up-close view of DNA cut and paste

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Science  10 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1289-1290
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6291.1289-b

DNA recombination, which involves the exchange of DNA between chromosomes, is fundamental to evolution. One of the best-characterized recombination reactions is between bacteriophage λ and the bacteria Escherichia coli: The bacteriophage DNA can be integrated into or excised from the bacterial DNA. Laxmikanthan et al. trapped an intermediate in the excision reaction and determined its structure at 11 A resolution. This structure, along with fitting known component structures into the electron density, revealed that the DNA forms a structure known as a Holliday junction that is bound by four enzymes and seven accessory proteins. The accessory proteins help position the DNA for the enzymatic reactions. The excision structure also provided insights into how the integrative complex probably functions.

eLife 5, e14313 (2016).

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