Gain-of-function mutations in TnsC, an ATP-dependent transposition protein that activates the bacterial transposon Tn7

Anne E. Stellwagen, Nancy L. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The bacterial transposon Tn7 encodes five genes whose protein products are used in different combinations to direct transposition to different types of target sites. TnsABC+D directs transposition to a specific site in the Escherichia coli chromosome called attTn7, whereas TnsABC+E directs transposition to non-attTn7 sites. These transposition reactions can also recognize and avoid 'immune' targets that already contain a copy of Tn7. TnsD and TnsE are required to activate TnsABC as well as to select a target site; no transposition occurs with wild-type TnsABC alone. Here, we describe the isolation of TnsC gain-of-function mutants that activate the TnsA+B transposase in the absence of TnsD or TnsE. Some of these TnsC mutants enable the TnsABC machinery to execute transposition without sacrificing its ability to discriminate between different types of targets. Other TnsC mutants appear to constitutively activate the TnsABC machinery so that it bypasses target signals. We also present experiments that suggest that target selection occurs early in the Tn7 transposition pathway in vivo: favorable attTn7 targets appear to promote the excision of Tn7 from the chromosome, whereas immune targets do not allow transposon excision to occur. This work supports the view that TnsC plays a central role in the evaluation and utilization of target DNAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-585
Number of pages13
JournalGenetics
Volume145
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics

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