DNA-binding activity and subunit interaction of the mariner transposase

Lei Zhang, A Dawson, D J Finnegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Mos1 is a member of the mariner/Tc1 family of transposable elements originally identified in Drosophila mauritiana. It has 28 bp terminal inverted repeats and like other elements of this type it transposes by a cut and paste mechanism, inserts at TA dinucleotides and codes for a transposase. This is the only protein required for transposition in vitro. We have investigated the DNA binding properties of Mos1 transposase and the role of transposase-transposase interactions in transposition. Purified transposase recognises the terminal inverted repeats of Mos1 due to a DNA-binding domain in the N-terminal 120 amino acids. This requires a putative helix-turn-helix motif between residues 88 and 108. Binding is preferentially to the right hand end, which differs at four positions from the repeat at the left end. Cleavage of Mos1 by transposase is also preferentially at the right hand end. Wild-type transposase monomers interact with each other in a yeast two-hybrid assay and we have used this to isolate mutations resulting in reduced interaction. These mutations lie along the length of the protein, indicating that transposase-transposase interactions are not due to a single interaction domain. One such mutation which retains both DNA-binding and catalytic activity has greatly reduced ability to excise Mos1 from plasmid DNA through coordinate cleavage of the two ends and transposition in vitro is lowered to a level 20-fold below that of the wild-type. This suggests that transposase-transposase interaction is required to form a synaptic complex necessary for coordinate cleavage at the ends of Mos1 during transposition. This mutant enzyme allows insertion at dinucleotides other than TA, including sequences with GC base pairs. This is the first example of a mariner/Tc1 transposase with altered target specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3566-3575
Number of pages10
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2001


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