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EMBO J. 1991 Sep;10(9):2699-705.

The replication termination signal terB of the Escherichia coli chromosome is a deletion hot spot.

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Laboratoire de Génétique Microbienne, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Jouy en Josas, France.


Hybrids composed of phage M13, plasmid pBR322 and the termination signal of Escherichia coli chromosome replication terB were used to show that arrest of DNA synthesis creates a very efficient deletion hot spot. Up to 80% of deletions occurring in these hybrids had one deletion end-point at terB provided that (i) terB was oriented to arrest M13 and pBR322 leading strand synthesis; and (ii) the host cells contained the Tus protein necessary for arresting DNA synthesis at terB. The position of terB and the flanking sequences had little effect on deletion hot spot activity. About 90% of the deletions at terB ended 5-6 nucleotides in front of the major replication arrest site. We propose two models to account for deletion formation and speculate that many genome rearrangements may be due to the pausing of DNA replication.

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