Derivatives of bacteriophage Mu carrying a lac operon and a selectable drug resistance element (Mu d phages) are frequently used tools of bacterial genetics. Mu d prophages used in this way can be treated as transposons, in that the inserted material can be transduced from one strain to another by general transducing phages, such as P1 and P22. When a Mu d prophage is transduced into a new recipient by P1 or P22, the Mu d element can transpose from the transduced fragment into the bacterial chromosome. Transposition of the Mu d element from a P22-transduced fragment shows several striking differences from transposition of a Mu d genome injected by a Mu virion. First, the frequency of transposition from a transduced fragment is greatly enhanced by a P22 helper genome. Second, transposition requires the host recA, B, and C functions. Transposition of Mu following injection by a Mu virion is rec independent. While the basis of these observations is not understood, we suggest that the Mu X protein, a 65-kilodalton protein injected by a Mu virion and required for Mu transposition, may not be packaged by P22. We suggest that the effects seen reflect the behavior of a Mu genome in the absence of the X protein
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