Intermolecular recombination assay for mammalian cells that produces recombinants carrying both homologous and nonhomologous junctions

Mol Cell Biol. 1987 Jun;7(6):2248-55. doi: 10.1128/mcb.7.6.2248-2255.1987.


We present an intermolecular recombination assay for mammalian cells that does not involve the reconstitution of a selectable marker. It is based on the generation of a shuttle vector by recombination between a bacterial and a mammalian vector. The recombinants can thus be amplified in mammalian cells, isolated by plasmid rescue in an Escherichia coli RecA- host, and identified by in situ hybridization, by using mammalian vector sequences as probes. Since both parental molecules can share defined lengths of homology, this assay permits a direct comparison between homologous and nonhomologous intermolecular recombination. Our results indicate that the dominant intermolecular recombination mechanism is a nonhomologous one. The relative frequency of homologous to nonhomologous recombination was influenced by the length of shared homology between parental molecules and the replicative state of the parental molecules, but not by the introduction of double-strand breaks per se. Finally, almost all of the recombinants with a homologous junction did not have the reciprocal homologous junction but instead had a nonhomologous one. We propose a model to account for the generation of these recombinants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Mice
  • Plasmids
  • Polyomavirus / genetics*
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transfection*