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Environ Mol Mutagen. 2004;43(4):226-34.

Effect of deletion of SOS-induced polymerases, pol II, IV, and V, on spontaneous mutagenesis in Escherichia coli mutD5.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.


The E. coli dnaQ gene encodes the epsilon subunit of DNA polymerase III (pol III) responsible for the proofreading activity of this polymerase. The mutD5 mutant of dnaQ chronically expresses the SOS response and exhibits a mutator phenotype. In this study we have constructed a set of E. coli AB1157 mutD5 derivatives deleted in genes encoding SOS-induced DNA polymerases, pol II, pol IV, and pol V, and estimated the frequency and specificity of spontaneous argE3-->Arg(+) reversion in exponentially growing and stationary-phase cells of these strains. We found that pol II exerts a profound effect on the specificity of spontaneous mutation in exponentially growing cells. Analysis of growth-dependent Arg(+) revertants in mutD5 polB(+) strains revealed that Arg(+) revertants were due to tRNA suppressor formation, whereas those in mutD5 DeltapolB strains arose by back mutation at the argE3 ochre site. In stationary-phase bacteria, Arg(+)revertants arose mainly by back mutation, regardless of whether they were proficient or deficient in pol II. Our results also indicate that in a mutD5 background, the absence of pol II led to increased frequency of Arg(+) growth-dependent revertants, whereas the lack of pol V caused its dramatic decrease, especially in mutD5 DeltaumuDC and mutD5 DeltaumuDC DeltapolB strains. In contrast, the rate of stationary-phase Arg(+)revertants increased in the absence of pol IV in the mutD5 DeltadinB strain. We postulate that the proofreading activity of pol II excises DNA lesions in exponentially growing cells, whereas pol V and pol IV are more active in stationary-phase cultures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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