Recombination of plasmid DNAs and recombination of bacteriophage lambda red mutants in recB recC sbcA Escherichia coli mutants, in which the recE region is expressed, do not require recA. The recE gene is known to encode exonuclease VIII (exoVIII), which is an ATP-independent exonuclease involved in the RecE pathway of recombination. A 33,000-molecular-weight (MW) protein was observed to be coexpressed with both exoVIII and a truncated version of exoVIII, pRac3 exo, when they were overproduced under the control of strong promoters. We have purified this 33,000-MW protein (p33) and demonstrated by protein sequence analysis that it is encoded by the same coding sequence that encodes the C-terminal 33,000-MW portion of exoVIII. p33 is expressed independently of exoVIII but is probably translated from the same mRNA. p33 was found to bind to single-stranded DNA and also to promote the renaturation of complementary single-stranded DNA. It appears that p33 is functionally analogous to the bacteriophage lambda beta protein, which may explain why RecE pathway recombination does not require recA
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