The Hin dimer interface is critical for Fis-mediated activation of the catalytic steps of site-specific DNA inversion

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Background: Hin is a member of an extended family of site-specific recombinases - the DNA invertase/resolvase family - that catalyze inversion or deletion of DNA. DNA inversion by Hin occurs between two recombination sites and requires the regulatory protein Fis, which associates with a cis-acting recombinational enhancer sequence. Hin recombinase dimers bind to the two recombination sites and assemble onto the Fis-bound enhancer to generate an invertasome structure, at which time they become competent to catalyze DNA cleavage and strand exchange. In this report, we investigate the role of the Hin dimer interface in the activation of its catalytic functions. Results: We show that the Hin dimer is formed at an interface that contains putative amphipathic α-helices in a manner that is very similar to γδ resolvase. Certain detergents weakened cooperative interactions between the subunits of the Hin dimer and dramatically increased the rate of the first chemical step of the reaction - double-strand cleavage events at the center of the recombination sites. Amino-acid substitutions within the dimer interface led to profound changes in the catalytic properties of the recombinase. Nearly all mutations strongly affected the ability of the dimer to cleave DNA and most abolished DNA strand exchange In vitro. Some amino-acid substitutions altered the concerted nature of the DNA cleavage events within both recombination sites, and two mutations resulted in cleavage activity that was independent of Fis activation in vitro. Disulfide-linked Hin dimers were catalytically inactive; however, subsequent to the addition of the Fis-bound enhancer sequence, catalytic activity was no longer affected by the presence of oxidizing agents. Conclusions: The combined results demonstrate that the Hin dimer interface is of critical importance for the activation of catalysis and imply that interactions with the Fis-bound enhancer may trigger a conformational adjustment within the region that is important for concerted DNA cleavage within both recombination sites, and possibly for the subsequent exchange of DNA strands. © Current Biology Ltd.




Haykinson, M. J., Johnson, L. M., Soong, J., & Johnson, R. C. (1996). The Hin dimer interface is critical for Fis-mediated activation of the catalytic steps of site-specific DNA inversion. Current Biology, 6(2), 163–177.

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