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Mutations in nonconserved domains of Ty3 integrase affect multiple stages of the Ty3 life cycle.


Ty3, a retroviruslike element of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, transposes into positions immediately upstream of RNA polymerase III-transcribed genes. The Ty3 integrase (IN) protein is required for integration of the replicated, extrachromosomal Ty3 DNA. In retroviral IN, a conserved core region is sufficient for strand transfer activity. In this study, charged-to-alanine scanning mutagenesis was used to investigate the roles of the nonconserved amino- and carboxyl-terminal regions of Ty3 IN. Each of the 20 IN mutants was defective for transposition, but no mutant was grossly defective for capsid maturation. All mutations affecting steady-state levels of mature IN protein resulted in reduced levels of replicated DNA, even when polymerase activity was not grossly defective as measured by exogenous reverse transcriptase activity assay. Thus, IN could contribute to nonpolymerase functions required for DNA production in vivo or to the stability of the DNA product. Several mutations in the carboxyl-terminal domain resulted in relatively low levels of processed 3' ends of the replicated DNA, suggesting that this domain may be important for binding of IN to the long terminal repeat. Another class of mutants produced wild-type amounts of DNA with correctly processed 3' ends. This class could include mutants affected in nuclear entry and target association. Collectively, these mutations demonstrate that in vivo, within the preintegration complex, IN performs a central role in coordinating multiple late stages of the retrotransposition life cycle.

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