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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Aug 3;96(16):9218-23.

A model for a umuDC-dependent prokaryotic DNA damage checkpoint.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The products of the Escherichia coli umuDC operon are required for translesion synthesis, the mechanistic basis of most mutagenesis caused by UV radiation and many chemicals. The UmuD protein shares homology with LexA, the repressor of SOS-regulated loci, and similarly undergoes a facilitated autodigestion on interaction with the RecA/single-stranded DNA nucleoprotein filaments formed after a cell experiences DNA damage. This cleavage, in which Ser-60 of UmuD acts as the nucleophile, produces UmuD', the form active in translesion synthesis. Expression of the noncleavable UmuD(S60A) protein and UmuC was found to increase survival after UV irradiation, despite the inability of the UmuD(S60A) protein to participate in translesion synthesis; this survival increase is uvr(+) dependent. Additional observations that expression of the UmuD(S60A) protein and UmuC delayed the resumption of DNA replication and cell growth after UV irradiation lead us to propose that the uncleaved UmuD protein and UmuC delay the resumption of DNA replication, thereby allowing nucleotide excision repair additional time to repair the damage accurately before replication is attempted. After a UV dose of 20 J/m(2), uncleaved UmuD is the predominant form for approximately 20 min, after which UmuD' becomes the predominant form, suggesting that the umuDC gene products play two distinct and temporally separated roles in DNA damage tolerance, the first in cell-cycle control and the second in translesion synthesis over unrepaired or irreparable lesions. The relationship of these observations to the eukaryotic DNA damage checkpoint is discussed.

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