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I-CreI

I-CreI is a homing endonuclease whose gene was first discovered in the chloroplast genome of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a species of unicellular green algae. It is named for the facts that: it resides in an Intron; it was isolated from Clamydomonas reinhardtii; it was the first (I) such gene isolated from C. reinhardtii. Its gene resides in a group I intron in the 23S ribosomal RNA gene of the C. reinhardtii chloroplast, and I-CreI is only expressed when its mRNA is spliced from the primary transcript of the 23S gene. I-CreI enzyme, which functions as a homodimer, recognizes a 22-nucleotide sequence of duplex DNA and cleaves one phosphodiester bond on each strand at specific positions. I-CreI is a member of the LAGLIDADG family of homing endonucleases, all of which have a conserved LAGLIDADG amino acid motif that contributes to their associative domains and active sites. When the I-CreI-containing intron encounters a 23S gene lacking the intron, I-CreI enzyme "homes" in on the "intron-minus" allele of 23S and effects its parent intron's insertion into the intron-minus allele. Introns with this behavior are called mobile introns. Because I-CreI provides for its own propagation while conferring no benefit on its host, it is an example of selfish DNA.