The GP(Y/F) domain of TF1 integrase multimerizes when present in a fragment, and substitutions in this domain reduce enzymatic activity of the full-length protein



Integrases (INs) of retroviruses and long terminal repeat retrotransposons possess a C-terminal domain with DNA binding activity. Other than this binding activity, little is known about how the C-terminal domain contributes to integration. A stretch of conserved amino acids called the GP(Y/F) domain has been identified within the C-terminal IN domains of two distantly related families, the gamma-retroviruses and the metavirus retrotransposons. To enhance understanding of the C-terminal domain, we examined the function of the GP(Y/F) domain in the IN of Tf1, a long terminal repeat retrotransposon of Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The activities of recombinant IN were measured with an assay that modeled the reverse of integration called disintegration. Although deletion of the entire C-terminal domain disrupted disintegration activity, an alanine substitution (P365A) in a conserved amino acid of the GP(Y/F) domain did not significantly reduce disintegration. When assayed for the ability to join two molecules of DNA in a reaction that modeled forward integration, the P365A substitution disrupted activity. UV cross-linking experiments detected DNA binding activity in the C-terminal domain and found that this activity was not reduced by substitutions in two conserved amino acids of the GP(Y/F) domain, G364A and P365A. Gel filtration and cross-linking of a 71-amino acid fragment containing the GP(Y/F) domain revealed a surprising ability to form dimers, trimers, and tetramers that was disrupted by the G364A and P365A substitutions. These results suggest that the GP(Y/F) residues may play roles in promoting multimerization and intermolecular strand joining.



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