A bipartite thermodynamic-kinetic contribution by an activating mutation to RDF-independent excision by a phage serine integrase

Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 Jul 9;48(12):6413-6430. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkaa401.


Streptomyces phage ϕC31 integrase (Int)-a large serine site-specific recombinase-is autonomous for phage integration (attP x attB recombination) but is dependent on the phage coded gp3, a recombination directionality factor (RDF), for prophage excision (attL x attR recombination). A previously described activating mutation, E449K, induces Int to perform attL x attR recombination in the absence of gp3, albeit with lower efficiency. E449K has no adverse effect on the competence of Int for attP x attB recombination. Int(E449K) resembles Int in gp3 mediated stimulation of attL x attR recombination and inhibition of attP x attB recombination. Using single-molecule analyses, we examined the mechanism by which E449K activates Int for gp3-independent attL x attR recombination. The contribution of E449K is both thermodynamic and kinetic. First, the mutation modulates the relative abundance of Int bound attL-attR site complexes, favoring pre-synaptic (PS) complexes over non-productively bound complexes. Roughly half of the synaptic complexes formed from Int(E449K) pre-synaptic complexes are recombination competent. By contrast, Int yields only inactive synapses. Second, E449K accelerates the dissociation of non-productively bound complexes and inactive synaptic complexes formed by Int. The extra opportunities afforded to Int(E499K) in reattempting synapse formation enhances the probability of success at fruitful synapsis.