We have studied the mode of recombination of six insertions during genetic transformation of The six heterologous insertions are located at the same site in the locus of the pneumococcal chromosome; insertion sizes range from 4 to 1374 bp. With respect to single-point markers we found that the number of transformants in one-point crosses is reduced, while the number of wild-type transformants in two-point crosses is drastically increased, what we call hyper-recombination. The magnitude of the shift is correlated with the size of the insert. This effect could result either from a special repair pathway of multibase heteroduplexes or from the exclusion of multibase heterologous insertions out of the pairing synapsis. To test these hypotheses we have used insertions in two kinds of three-point crosses. The repair model predicts that the excess of wild-type transformants remains in one set of crosses but is suppressed in the second set. The results we obtained are reversed, ruling out the hypothesis of a repair process, but in agreement with predictions based on the exclusion model. Moreover, we have re-examined the situation of deletions, our previous results suggesting that deletions were likely to be converted at the heteroduplex step. Genetic evidence we obtained in this work no longer supports this hypothesis. Thus, long heterologous insertions are partly excluded at the pairing step.


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