Long Interspersed Elements (LINEs), also known as non-LTR retrotransposons, encode a multifunctional protein that reverse transcribes its mRNA into DNA at the site of insertion by target primed reverse transcription. The second half of the integration reaction remains very poorly understood. Second-strand DNA cleavage and second-strand DNA synthesis were investigated in vitro using purified components from a site-specific restriction-like endonuclease (RLE) bearing LINE. DNA structure was shown to be a critical component of second-strand DNA cleavage. A hitherto unknown and unexplored integration intermediate, an open '4-way' DNA junction, was recognized by the element protein and cleaved in a Holliday junction resolvase-like reaction. Cleavage of the 4-way junction resulted in a natural primer-template pairing used for second-strand DNA synthesis. A new model for RLE LINE integration is presented.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.