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Mol Gen Genet. 1989 Aug;218(2):358-60.

Effect of base pair mismatches on recombination via the RecBCD pathway.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110.


The effect of base pair mismatches on recombination via the RecBCD pathway was studied in mutS and wild-type Escherichia coli, using substrates that contain single or multiple mismatches. Recombination between homologous DNA inserts in lambda phage and pBR322-derived plasmids forms phage-plasmid cointegrates that result from an odd numbers of crossovers. In the mutS host, when the sequence homology of a pair of 405 bp substrates decreased from 100% to 89%, the recombinant frequency decreased by about 9-fold, while in the wild-type host the decrease was about 240-fold. These results suggest that multiple mismatches can reduce recombinant frequencies by impeding the mechanism of recombination itself, and by provoking mismatch repair. Single mismatches in 31 bp substrates caused reductions in recombinant frequencies of 2- or 12-fold, depending on the location of the mismatch. However, unlike the reduction by multiple mismatches, the reduction of the recombinant frequencies by single mismatches was the same in both mutS and wild-type hosts. Thus a single mismatch is sufficient to impede recombination, and mismatch repair seems unable to act on single mismatches in very short homologies during recombination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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