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J Bacteriol. 2007 Aug;189(15):5728-37. Epub 2007 May 18.

Genetic interactions of DNA repair pathways in the pathogen Neisseria meningitidis.

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Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience and Institute of Microbiology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


The current increase in the incidence and severity of infectious diseases mandates improved understanding of the basic biology and DNA repair profiles of virulent microbes. In our studies of the major pathogen and model organism Neisseria meningitidis, we constructed a panel of mutants inactivating genes involved in base excision repair, mismatch repair, nucleotide excision repair (NER), translesion synthesis, and recombinational repair pathways. The highest spontaneous mutation frequency among the N. meningitidis single mutants was found in the MutY-deficient strain as opposed to mutS mutants in Escherichia coli, indicating a role for meningococcal MutY in antibiotic resistance development. Recombinational repair was recognized as a major pathway counteracting methyl methanesulfonate-induced alkylation damage in the N. meningitidis. In contrast to what has been shown in other species, meningococcal NER did not contribute significantly to repair of alkylation-induced DNA damage, and meningococcal recombinational repair may thus be one of the main pathways for removal of abasic (apurinic/apyrimidinic) sites and strand breaks in DNA. Conversely, NER was identified as the main meningococcal defense pathway against UV-induced DNA damage. N. meningitidis RecA single mutants exhibited only a moderate decrease in survival after UV exposure as opposed to E. coli recA strains, which are extremely UV sensitive, possibly reflecting the lack of a meningococcal SOS response. In conclusion, distinct differences between N. meningitidis and established DNA repair characteristics in E. coli and other species were identified.

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