[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synthetic biology requires effective methods to assemble DNA parts into devices and to modify these devices once made. Here we demonstrate a convenient rapid procedure for DNA fragment assembly using site-specific recombination by C31 integrase. Using six orthogonal attP/attB recombination site pairs with different overlap sequences, we can assemble up to five DNA fragments in a defined order and insert them into a plasmid vector in a single recombination reaction. C31 integrase-mediated assembly is highly efficient, allowing production of large libraries suitable for combinatorial gene assembly strategies. The resultant assemblies contain arrays of DNA cassettes separated by recombination sites, which can be used to manipulate the assembly by further recombination. We illustrate the utility of these procedures to (i) assemble functional metabolic pathways containing three, four or five genes; (ii) optimize productivity of two model metabolic pathways by combinatorial assembly with randomization of gene order or ribosome binding site strength; and (iii) modify an assembled metabolic pathway by gene replacement or addition.
Nucleic Acids Research 11/2013; · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Zinc-finger recombinases (ZFRs) are chimaeric proteins comprising a serine recombinase catalytic domain linked to a zinc-finger DNA binding domain. ZFRs can be tailored to promote site-specific recombination at diverse 'Z-sites', which each comprise a central core sequence flanked by zinc-finger domain-binding motifs. Here, we show that purified ZFRs catalyse efficient high-specificity reciprocal recombination between pairs of Z-sites in vitro. No off-site activity was detected. Under different reaction conditions, ZFRs can catalyse Z-site-specific double-strand DNA cleavage. ZFR recombination activity in Escherichia coli and in vitro is highly dependent on the length of the Z-site core sequence. We show that this length effect is manifested at reaction steps prior to formation of recombinants (binding, synapsis and DNA cleavage). The design of the ZFR protein itself is also a crucial variable affecting activity. A ZFR with a very short (2 amino acids) peptide linkage between the catalytic and zinc-finger domains has high activity in vitro, whereas a ZFR with a very long linker was less recombination-proficient and less sensitive to variations in Z-site length. We discuss the causes of these phenomena, and their implications for practical applications of ZFRs.
Nucleic Acids Research 08/2011; 39(21):9316-28. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Site-specific recombinases are enzymes that promote precise rearrangements of DNA sequences. They do this by cutting and rejoining the DNA strands at specific positions within a pair of target sites recognized and bound by the recombinase. One group of these enzymes, the serine recombinases, initiates strand exchange by making double-strand breaks in the DNA of the two sites, in an intermediate built around a catalytic tetramer of recombinase subunits. However, these catalytic steps are only the culmination of a complex pathway that begins when recombinase subunits recognize and bind to their target sites as dimers. To form the tetramer-containing reaction intermediate, two dimer-bound sites are brought together by protein dimer-dimer interactions. During or after this initial synapsis step, the recombinase subunit and tetramer conformations change dramatically by repositioning of component subdomains, bringing about a transformation of the enzyme from an inactive to an active configuration. In natural serine recombinase systems, these steps are subject to elaborate regulatory mechanisms in order to ensure that cleavage and rejoining of DNA strands only happen when and where they should, but we and others have identified recombinase mutants that have lost dependence on this regulation, thus facilitating the study of the basic steps leading to catalysis. We describe how our studies on activated mutants of two serine recombinases, Tn3 resolvase and Sin, are providing us with insights into the structural changes that occur before catalysis of strand exchange, and how these steps in the reaction pathway are regulated.
Biochemical Society Transactions 04/2011; 39(2):617-22. · 2.59 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The active-site interactions involved in the catalysis of DNA site-specific recombination by the serine recombinases are still incompletely understood. Recent crystal structures of synaptic gammadelta resolvase-DNA intermediates and biochemical analysis of Tn3 resolvase mutants have provided new insights into the structure of the resolvase active site, and how interactions of the catalytic residues with the DNA substrate might promote the phosphoryl transfer reactions.
Biochemical Society Transactions 04/2010; 38(2):417-21. · 2.59 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To characterize the residues that participate in the catalysis of DNA cleavage and rejoining by the site-specific recombinase Tn3 resolvase, we mutated conserved polar or charged residues in the catalytic domain of an activated resolvase variant. We analysed the effects of mutations at 14 residues on proficiency in binding to the recombination site ('site I'), formation of a synaptic complex between two site Is, DNA cleavage and recombination. Mutations of Y6, R8, S10, D36, R68 and R71 resulted in greatly reduced cleavage and recombination activity, suggesting crucial roles of these six residues in catalysis, whereas mutations of the other residues had less dramatic effects. No mutations strongly inhibited binding of resolvase to site I, but several caused conspicuous changes in the yield or stability of the synapse of two site Is observed by non-denaturing gel electrophoresis. The involvement of some residues in both synapsis and catalysis suggests that they contribute to a regulatory mechanism, in which engagement of catalytic residues with the substrate is coupled to correct assembly of the synapse.
Nucleic Acids Research 09/2009; 37(22):7590-602. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The serine recombinase Tn3 resolvase catalyses recombination between two 114 bp res sites, each of which contains binding sites for three resolvase dimers. We have analysed the in vitro properties of resolvase variants with 'activating' mutations, which can catalyse recombination at binding site I of res when the rest of res is absent. Site I x site I recombination promoted by these variants can be as fast as res x res recombination promoted by wild-type resolvase. Activated variants have reduced topological selectivity and no longer require the 2-3' interface between subunits that is essential for wild-type resolvase-mediated recombination. They also promote formation of a stable synapse comprising a resolvase tetramer and two copies of site I. Cleavage of the DNA strands by the activated mutants is slow relative to the rate of synapsis. Stable resolvase tetramers were not detected in the absence of DNA or bound to a single site I. Our results lead us to conclude that the synapse is assembled by sequential binding of resolvase monomers to site I followed by interaction of two site I-dimer complexes. We discuss the implications of our results for the mechanisms of synapsis and regulation in recombination by wild-type resolvase.
Nucleic Acids Research 12/2008; 36(22):7181-91. · 8.28 Impact Factor