Sequence-specific interaction of the Salmonella Hin recombinase in both major and minor grooves of DNA

EMBO J. 1992 Jul;11(7):2695-705.


The Hin recombinase of Salmonella catalyzes a site-specific recombination event which leads to flagellar phase variation. Starting with a fully symmetrical recombination site, hixC, a set of 40 recombination sites which vary by pairs of single base substitutions was constructed. This set was incorporated into the Salmonella-specific bacteriophage P22 based challenge phage selection and used to define the DNA sequence determinants for the binding of Hin to DNA in vivo. The critical sequence-specific contacts between a Hin monomer and a 13 bp hix half-site are at two T:A base pairs in the major groove of the DNA which are separated by one base pair, and two consecutive A:T contacts in the minor groove. The base substitutions in the major groove recognition portion which were defective in binding Hin still retained residual binding capability in vivo, while the base pair substitutions affecting the minor groove recognition region lost all in vivo binding. Using in vitro binding assays, Hin was found to bind to hix symmetrical sites with A:T base pairs or I:C base pairs in the minor groove recognition sequences, but not to G:C base pairs. In separate in vitro binding assays, Hin was equally defective in binding to either a G:C or a I:C contact in a major groove recognition sequence. Results from in vitro binding assays to hix sites in which 3-deazaadenine was substituted for adenine are consistent with Hin making a specific contact to either the N3 of adenine or O2 of thymine in the minor groove within the hix recombination site on each symmetric half-site. These results taken with the results of previous studies on the DNA binding domain of Hin suggest a sequence-specific minor groove DNA binding motif.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Methylation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plasmids
  • Salmonella / enzymology*
  • Salmonella / genetics
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Tubercidin / analogs & derivatives
  • Tubercidin / chemistry


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • Hin recombinase
  • Tubercidin