DNA-binding properties of the Hin recombinase
The recombinase of the Salmonella inversion system, Hin, mediates site-specific recombination between two 26 base pairs (bp) inverted repeat sequences (hixL and hixR) which flank a 993-bp DNA segment. We have investigated Hin recognition of, and association with, the hix recombination sites. Nuclease and chemical protection studies with linear and supercoiled DNA substrates demonstrate that Hin initially binds hixL and hixR independently of binding of the other protein components of the inversion system, Fis and HU. DNA-binding assays with mutant recombination sites and methylation interference experiments indicate that the critical bases for Hin recognition of its DNA-binding site are within an 8-bp sequence covering adjacent major and minor grooves of the DNA helix in each of the 12-bp half-sites of the hix recombination sites. The nature of the Hin-hix complexes in these binding studies and the results of gel filtration assays with purified Hin suggests that Hin binds the recombination sites as a dimer. The implications of the nature of the interactions of Hin with its recombination sites on the mechanism of the recombination reaction and on the novel features of DNA recognition by Hin are discussed.