Xer site-specific recombination at cer and psi converts bacterial plasmid multimers into monomers so that they can be efficiently segregated to both daughter cells at cell division. Recombination is catalysed by the XerC and XerD recombinases acting at ~30 bp core sites, and is regulated by the action of accessory proteins bound to accessory DNA sequences adjacent to the core sites. Recombination normally occurs only between sites in direct repeat in a negatively supercoiled circular DNA molecule, and yields two circular products linked together in a right-handed four-node catenane with antiparallel sites. These and other topological results are explained by a model in which the accessory DNA sequences are interwrapped around the accessory proteins, trapping three negative supercoils so that strand exchange by the XerC and XerD yields the observed four-node catenane.

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