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J Mol Biol. 2007 Aug 3;371(1):19-24. Epub 2007 Jun 2.

The lambda Gam protein inhibits RecBCD binding to dsDNA ends.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue, North, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


Inactivation of the Escherichia coli RecBCD enzyme by the lambda Gam protein is an essential step that accompanies the lambda Red proteins for gene replacement using recombineering technology. It has been shown that Gam inhibits all the activities of RecBCD to the same extent. Nonetheless, some in vivo properties of recBCD mutants cannot be mimicked effectively by the expression of gam in vivo. An examination of the mechanism of Gam's inhibition of RecBCD was performed, and it was found that Gam inhibits the binding of RecBCD to double-stranded DNA ends, even if RecBCD is bound to DNA before its interaction with Gam. When ATP is added to the reaction to induce helicase activity, most of the reaction is inhibited by Gam, but residual amounts of unwinding are detected, despite a 40-fold excess of Gam/RecBCD. The same inhibitory effect of Gam was seen on RecBCD that had been modified by the P22 anti-RecBCD protein Abc2, though the inhibitory effect was diminished due to the tighter binding of Abc2-modified RecBCD to double-stranded DNA ends. These data suggest that cells containing Gam-expressing plasmids retain a small amount of uninhibited enzyme. Given the suspected instability of Gam in vivo, care must be taken when interpreting results from experiments containing Gam-inhibited RecBCD species. A revised model is proposed for Gam-induced radioresistance of E. coli to ionizing radiation.

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