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Transposable bacteriophage Mu

Bacteriophage Mu is one of the most useful transposons due to its well-characterized and simple in vitro transposition reaction

Mu is both a transposable element and a temperate bacteriophage of Escherichia coli and other Gram-negative bacteria. Mu was the first mobile element found in E. coli, and it has played a major role in the development of the study of mobile DNA elements.  While transpososome assembly is normally controlled by several cofactors, the required components can be substantially simplified using modified reaction conditions. In a minimal setup, the only requirements are a simple buffer, MuA transposase, transposon DNA in a precut linear form that contains only the R1 and R2 MuA binding sites at both ends, and target DNA.

Mu as a genetic tool

The minimal Mu transposition system displays high transposition frequency and relatively low target-site selectivity, and these features make it ideal for a variety of applications. In addition to the fact that the DNA between transposon ends can be of any origin, the Mu transposon ends can be designed to contain nucleotide changes, which can be exploited when designing novel Mu tools.

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Figure. Schematic of Mu DNA transposition reaction with precut mini-Mu transposon. The desired DNA sequence (i.e. selection marker, origin of replication, other DNA sequence) is flanked by 50 bp Mu Ends (R1 and R2 MuA binding sites). Target DNA can be genomic DNA or purified plasmid DNA, and transposition reaction can be accomplished in vivo or in vitro. Integration generates 5 bp target site duplication (TSD).