Presence of a characteristic D-D-E motif in IS1 transposase

J Bacteriol. 2002 Nov;184(22):6146-54. doi: 10.1128/JB.184.22.6146-6154.2002.


Transposases encoded by various transposable DNA elements and retroviral integrases belong to a family of proteins with three conserved acidic amino acids, D, D, and E, constituting the D-D-E motif that represents the active center of the proteins. IS1, one of the smallest transposable elements in bacteria, encodes a transposase which has been thought not to belong to the family of proteins with the D-D-E motif. In this study, we found several IS1 family elements that were widely distributed not only in eubacteria but also in archaebacteria. The alignment of the transposase amino acid sequences from these IS1 family elements showed that out of 14 acidic amino acids present in IS1 transposase, three (D, D, and E) were conserved in corresponding positions in the transposases encoded by all the elements. Comparison of the IS1 transposase with other proteins with the D-D-E motif revealed that the polypeptide segments surrounding each of the three acidic amino acids were similar. Furthermore, the deduced secondary structures of the transposases encoded by IS1 family elements were similar to one another and to those of proteins with the D-D-E motif. These results strongly suggest that IS1 transposase has the D-D-E motif and thus belongs to the family of proteins with the D-D-E motif. In fact, mutant IS1 transposases with an amino acid substitution for each of the three acidic amino acids possibly constituting the D-D-E motif were not able to promote transposition of IS1, supporting this hypothesis. The D-D-E motif identified in IS1 transposase differs from those in the other proteins in that the polypeptide segment between the second D and third E in IS1 transposase is the shortest, 24 amino acids in length. Because of this difference, the presence of the D-D-E motif in IS1 transposase has not been discovered for some time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Archaea / enzymology
  • Archaea / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plasmids
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Transposases / chemistry*
  • Transposases / genetics
  • Transposases / metabolism


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Transposases