In transformation of Streptococcus pneumoniae DNA enters the cell as single-strand fragments and integrates into the chromosome by homologous recombination. Deletions and insertions of a few hundred base pairs frequently stop the recombination process of a donor strand. In this work we took advantage of such interruptions of recombination to compare the transformation efficiencies of the segments 5′- and 3′-ward from a deletion. The deletion was created in the center of a fragment of the ami locus, and sites around the deletion were labeled by a frameshift generating a restriction site. Heteroduplexes were constructed containing two restriction sites on one strand and two different ones on the complementary strand. ami+ bacteria were transformed with such heteroduplexes. ami− transformants were isolated and individually underwent amplification of the transformed ami region. We have obtained two kinds of amplification products: short when the deletion was integrated, long when recombination stops at the deletion. Each long fragment was tested by the four restriction enzymes to detect which strand and which side of the deletion had recombined. We found that 80% of the cuts were located 5′ to the deletion, showing that, in vivo, the 5′ side is strongly favored by recombination. Further results suggest that exchanges occurring from 5′ to 3′ relative to the donor strand are more efficient than in the opposite direction, thus accounting for the 5′ preference
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