Involvement of a bifunctional, paired-like DNA-binding domain and a transpositional enhancer in Sleeping Beauty transposition


  • Z. Izsvak
  • D. Khare
  • J. Behlke
  • U. Heinemann
  • R.H. Plasterk
  • Z. Ivics


  • Journal of Biological Chemistry


  • J Biol Chem 277 (37): 34581-34588


  • Sleeping Beauty (SB) is the most active Tc1/mariner-like transposon in vertebrate species. Each of the terminal inverted repeats (IRs) of SB contains two transposase-binding sites (DRs). This feature, termed the IR/DR structure, is conserved in a group of Tcl-like transposons. The DNA-binding region of SB transposase, similar to the paired domain of Pax proteins, consists of two helix-turn-helix subdomains (PAI + RED = PAIRED). The N-terminal PAI subdomain was found to play a dominant role in contacting the DRs. Transposase was able to bind to mutant sites retaining the 3′ part of the DRs; thus, primary DNA binding is not sufficient to determine the specificity of the transposition reaction. The PAI subdomain was also found to bind to a transpositional enhancer-like sequence within the left IR of SB, and to mediate protein-protein interactions between transposase subunits. A tetrameric form of the transposase was detected in solution, consistent with an interaction between the IR/DR structure and a transposase tetramer. We propose a model in which the transpositional enhancer and the PAI subdomain stabilize complexes formed by a transposase tetramer bound at the IR/DR. These interactions may result in enhanced stability of synaptic complexes, which might explain the efficient transposition of Sleeping Beauty in vertebrate cells.