Living Reference Work Entry

Molecular Life Sciences

pp 1-10

Date: Latest Version

Conservative Site-Specific Recombination

  • Adam R. ParksAffiliated withMolecular Control and Genetics Section, Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
  • , Joseph E. PetersAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, Cornell University Email author 


Site-specific recombination


Conservative site-specific recombination is a process that enables genetic recombination between DNA molecules that contain short DNA sequences, which are bound by specific recombinase proteins. These recombinase proteins belong to one of two families of proteins, the tyrosine recombinases and the serine recombinases. Both recombinase families form covalent bonds between the enzyme and the DNA backbone. Following isomerization, the DNA backbone is rejoined in a process that does not require ATP or metal cofactors. The outcomes of site-specific recombination can include DNA integration, deletion, or inversion. Site-specific recombinases perform a variety of biological functions including integration of bacteriophage DNA into a host genome, resolution of dimer DNA molecules, recombination of antibiotic resistance gene cassettes, and alteration of gene expression. Site-specific recombinases are also actively used as tools in the biotech industry.

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