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J Mol Biol. 1991 Dec 20;222(4):925-36.

Mutational specificity of the dnaE173 mutator associated with a defect in the catalytic subunit of DNA polymerase III of Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.


We developed a system to examine forward mutations that occurred in the rpsL gene of Escherichia coli placed on a multicopy plasmid. Using this system we determined the mutational specificity for a dnaE173 mutator strain in which the editing function of DNA polymerase III is impeded. The frequency of rpsL- mutations increased 32,000-fold, due to the dnaE173 mutator, and 87 independent rpsL- mutations in the mutator strain were analyzed by DNA sequencing, together with 100 mutants recovered from dnaE+ strain, as the control. While half the number of mutations that occurred in the wild-type strain were caused by insertion elements, no such mutations were recovered from the mutator strain. A novel class of mutation, named "sequence substitution" was present in mutants raised in the dnaE173 strain; seven sequence substitutions induced in the mutator strain occurred at six sites, and all were located in quasipalindromic sequences, carrying the GTG or CAC sequence at one or both endpoints. While other types of mutation were found in both strains, single-base frameshifts were the most frequent events in the mutator strain. Thus, the mutator effect on this class of mutation was 175,000-fold. A total of 95% of the single-base frameshifts in the mutator strain were additions, most of which occurred at runs of A or C bases so as to increase the number of identical residues. Base substitutions, the frequency of which was enhanced 25,000-fold by the mutator effect, occurred primarily at several hotspots in the mutator strain, whereas those induced in the wild-type strain were more randomly distributed throughout the rpsL sequence. The dnaE173 mutator also increased the frequency of duplications 28,000-fold. Of the three duplications recovered from the mutator strain, one was a simple duplication, the region of which was flanked by direct repeats. The other duplications were complex, one half part of which was in the inverted orientation of a region containing two sets of inverted repeats. The same duplications were also recovered from the wild-type strain. The present data suggest that dnaE173 is a novel class of mutator that sharply induces sequence-directed mutagenesis, yielding high frequencies of single base frameshifts, duplications with inversions, sequence substitutions and base substitutions at hotspots.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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