We have defined some of the sequences involved in high frequency recA-independent recombination at the oriV1 region of the F factor. Using a mobilization assay, we determined that plasmid pMB080, a pBR322 derivative bearing the PvuII-BamHI (F factor co-ordinates 45.43 to 46.0) fragment from the oriV1 region of F, contained all sequences necessary to undergo efficient site-specific recombination with the F derivative pOX38, which retains the oriV1 region. We constructed a series of pMB080 deletions in vitro using exonucleases S1 and Bal31. Deletions removing a ten base-pair sequence, which forms part of an inverted repeat segment located 62 base-pairs to the left of the NcoI site (45.87) within the cloned fragment, totally eliminated the recA-independent recombination reaction. Other deletions differentially affected both the frequency and stability of cointegrate molecules formed by the site-specific recombination system. The F factor oriV1 region is involved also in low-frequency recombination with several sites on pBR322 and related plasmids. We have determined the precise location of these recombination sites within oriV1 by DNA sequencing. These studies revealed that recombination always took place within an eight base-pair spacer region between the ten base-pair inverted repeats found to be important for oriV1-oriV1 interactions. We propose that the low-efficiency recombination between pBR322 and pOX38 results from the ability of the F site-specific recombination apparatus to weakly recognize and interact with sequences that bear some resemblance to the normal oriV1 recognition elements. Furthermore, we suggest, by analogy with the lambda paradigm, that the nucleotide sequences at the junctions of secondary site recombinants define at least one crossover site used during the normal site-specific recombination process.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study has been supported by a grant from the US National Institutes of Health (no. GM-15840). We thank Galit S. Rotman for help in constructing some of the plasmid deletions; and R. Cooney and G. Terranova McFall for plasmid constructions. We thank Jeff Miller for critical reading of the manuscript.