Linearization and transposition of circular molecules of insertion sequence IS3

J Mol Biol. 1999 Nov 19;294(1):21-34. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1999.3181.


IS3 transposase has been shown to promote production of characteristic circular and linear IS3 molecules from the IS3-carrying plasmid; IS3 circles have the entire IS3 sequence with terminal inverted repeats, IRL and IRR, which are separated by a three base-pair sequence originally flanking either end in the parental plasmid, whereas linear IS3 molecules have three nucleotide overhangs at their 5' ends. Here, we showed that a plasmid carrying an IS3 derivative, which is flanked by different sequences at both ends, generated IS3 circles and linear IS3 molecules owing to the action of transposase. Cloning and sequencing analyses of the linear molecules showed that each had the same 5'-protruding three nucleotide overhanging sequences at both ends, suggesting that the linear molecules were not generated from the parental plasmid by the two double-strand breaks at both end regions of IS3. The plasmid carrying IS3 with a two base-pair mutation in the terminal dinucleotide, which would be required for transposase to cleave the 3' end of IS3, could still generate linear molecules as well as circles. Plasmids bearing an IS3 circle were cleaved by transposase and gave linear molecules with the same 5'-protruding three nucleotide overhanging sequences. These show that the linear molecules are generated from IS3 circles via a double-strand break at the three base-pair intervening sequence. Plasmids carrying an IS3 circle with the two base-pair end mutation still were cleaved by transposase, though with reduced efficiencies, suggesting that IS3 transposase has the ability to cleave not only the 3' end of IS3, but a site three nucleotides from the 5' end of IS3. IS3 circles also were shown to transpose to the target plasmids. The end mutation almost completely inhibited this transposition, showing that the terminal dinucleotides are important for the transfer of the 3' end of IS3 to the target as well as for the end cleavage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Pairing
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • DNA, Circular / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transposases / metabolism*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Circular
  • Transposases