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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999 May 18;870:275-89.

Mechanisms of genome-wide hypermutation in stationary phase.

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Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030-3498, USA.


Stationary-phase mutation (a subset of which was previously called adaptive mutation) occurs in apparently nondividing, stationary-phase cells exposed to a nonlethal genetic selection. In one experimental system, stationary-phase reversion of an Escherichia coli F'-borne lac frameshift mutation occurs by a novel molecular mechanism that requires homologous recombination functions of the RecBCD system. Chromosomal mutations at multiple loci are detected more frequently in Lac+ stationary-phase revertants than in cells that were also exposed to selection but did not become Lac+. Thus, mutating cells represent a subpopulation that experiences hypermutation throughout the genome. This paper summarizes current knowledge regarding stationary-phase mutation in the lac system. Hypotheses for the mechanism of chromosomal hypermutation are discussed, and data are presented that exclude one hypothetical mechanism in which chromosomal mutations result from Hfr formation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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