RecA protein catalyzes strand exchange between homologous single-stranded and doublestranded DNAs. In the presence of ATPγS, the post-strand exchange synaptic complex is a stable end product that can be studied. Here we ask whether such complexes can hybridize to or exchange with DNA, 2′-OMe RNA, PNA, or LNA oligonucleotides. Using a gel mobility shift assay, we show that the displaced strand of a 45 bp synaptic complex can hybridize to complementary oligonucleotides with different backbones to form a four-stranded (double D-loop) joint that survives removal of the RecA protein. This hybridization reaction, which confirms the single-stranded character of the displaced strand in a synaptic complex, might initiate recombination-dependent DNA replication if it occurs in vivo. We also show that either strand of the heteroduplex in a 30 bp synaptic complex can be replaced with a homologous DNA oligonucleotide in a strand exchange reaction that is mediated by the RecA filament. Consistent with the important role that deoxyribose plays in strand exchange, oligonucleotides with non-DNA backbones did not participate in this reaction. The hybridization and strand exchange reactions reported here demonstrate that short synaptic complexes are dynamic structures even in the presence of ATPγS.
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