The effect of attachment site mutations on strand exchange in bacteriophage lambda site-specific recombination.

C. E. Bauer, J. F. Gardner, R. I. Gumport, R. A. Weisberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recombination of phage lambda attachment sites occurs by sequential exchange of the DNA strands at two specific locations. The first exchange produces a Holliday structure, and the second resolves it to recombinant products. Heterology for base substitution mutations in the region between the two strand exchange points (the overlap region) reduces recombination; some mutations inhibit the accumulation of Holliday structures, others inhibit their resolution to recombinant products. To see if heterology also alters the location of the strand exchange points, we determined the segregation pattern of three single and one multiple base pair substitution mutations of the overlap region in crosses with wild type sites. The mutations are known to differ in the severity of their recombination defect and in the stage of strand exchange they affect. The three single mutations behaved similarly: each segregated into both products of recombination, and the two products of a single crossover were frequently nonreciprocal in the overlap region. In contrast, the multiple mutation preferentially segregated into one of the two recombinant products, and the two products of a single crossover appeared to be fully reciprocal. The simplest explanation of the segregation pattern of the single mutations is that strand exchanges occur at the normal locations to produce recombinants with mismatched base pairs that are frequently repaired. The segregation pattern of the multiple mutation is consistent with the view that both strand exchanges usually occur to one side of the mutant site. We suggest that the segregation pattern of a particular mutation is determined by which stage of strand exchange it inhibits and by the severity of the inhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-736
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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