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J Mol Evol. 1991 Aug;33(2):125-32.

Counterselection of GATC sequences in enterobacteriophages by the components of the methyl-directed mismatch repair system.

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Laboratoire de Mutagénèse, Institut J. Monod, France.


Weak to severe deficit of GATC sequences in the DNA of enterobacteriophages appears to be correlated with their undermethylation during growth in dam+ (GATC ade-methylase) bacteria. This observation is corroborated by the sequence analysis showing no evidence for site-specific mutagenicity of 6meAde. The MutH protein of the methyl-directed mismatch repair system recognizes and cleaves the undermethylated GATC sequences in the course of mismatch repair. To enquire whether the MutH function of the methyl-directed mismatch repair system participates in counterselection of GATC sequences in enterobacteriophages, we have studied the yield of bacteriophage phi X174 containing either 0, 1, or 2 GATC sequences, in wild type, dam, and mut (H, L, S, U) Escherichia coli. Following transfection with unmethylated DNA containing two GATC sequences, a net decrease in the yield of infective particles was observed in all bacterial mutH+ dam- strains, whereas no detectable decrease was observed in bacteria infected by DNA without GATC sequence. This effect of the MutH function is maximum in wild type and mutL and mutS bacteria whereas the effect is not significant in mutU bacteria, suggesting an interaction of the helicase II with the MutH protein. However, in dam+ bacteria, the presence of GATC sequences leads to an increased yield of infective particles. The effect of GATC sequence and its Dam methylation system on phage yield in mutH- bacteria reveals that methylated GATC sequences are advantageous to the phage.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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