Affordable Access

Site-directed transposon integration in human cells

  • Stephen R. Yant
  • Yong Huang
  • Bassel Akache
  • Mark A. Kay
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Mar 07, 2007
  • Biology
  • Engineering


The Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon is a promising gene transfer vector that integrates nonspecifically into host cell genomes. Herein, we attempt to direct transposon integration into predetermined DNA sites by coupling a site-specific DNA-binding domain (DBD) to the SB transposase. We engineered fusion proteins comprised of a hyperactive SB transposase (HSB5) joined via a variable-length linker to either end of the polydactyl zinc-finger protein E2C, which binds a unique sequence on human chromosome 17. Although DBD linkage to the C-terminus of SB abolished activity in a human cell transposition assay, the N-terminal addition of the E2C or Gal4 DBD did not. Molecular analyses indicated that these DBD-SB fusion proteins retained DNA-binding specificity for their respective substrate molecules and were capable of mediating bona fide transposition reactions. We also characterized transposon integrations in the presence of the E2C-SB fusion protein to determine its potential to target predefined DNA sites. Our results indicate that fusion protein-mediated tethering can effectively redirect transposon insertion site selection in human cells, but suggest that stable docking of integration complexes may also partially interfere with the cut-and-paste mechanism. These findings illustrate the feasibility of directed transposon integration and highlight potential means for future development.


Seen <100 times