DNA origami based visualization system for studying site-specific recombination events

J Am Chem Soc. 2014 Jan 8;136(1):211-8. doi: 10.1021/ja408656y. Epub 2013 Dec 24.


Site-specific recombination involves reciprocal exchange between defined DNA sites. The reaction initiates from the formation of a recombinase-DNA synaptic complex, in which two recombination sites arrange in an appropriate configuration. However, there is incomplete information about how the topological state of the substrate influences the synapsis and outcome of the reaction. Here, we show that Cre-mediated recombination can be regulated by controlling the orientation and topology of the loxP substrate in a DNA frame nanoscaffold. High-speed atomic force microscopy analyses revealed that the loxP-containing substrate strands in the antiparallel orientation can be recombined only through formation of synaptic complexes. By tethering Holliday junction (HJ) intermediates to DNA frames in different connection patterns and using them as a starting substrate, we found that the topological state of the HJ intermediates dictates the outcome of the resolution. Our approach should provide a new platform for structural-functional studies of various DNA targeting enzymes, especially which require formation of synaptic complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA, Cruciform / chemistry
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • DNA, Cruciform
  • DNA