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Genome. 1989;31(1):53-67.

Recombination of bacteriophage lambda in recD mutants of Escherichia coli.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene 97403.


RecBCD enzyme is centrally important in homologous recombination in Escherichia coli and is the source of ExoV activity. Null alleles of either the recB or the recC genes, which encode the B and C subunits, respectively, manifest no recombination and none of the nuclease functions characteristic of the holoenzyme. Loss of the D subunit, by a recD mutation, likewise results in loss of ExoV activity. However, mutants lacking the D subunit are competent for homologous recombination. We report that the distribution of exchanges along the chromosome of Red-Gam-phage lambda is strikingly altered by recD null mutations in the host. When lambda DNA replication is blocked, recombination in recD mutant strains is high near lambda's right end. In contrast, recombination in isogenic recD+ strains is approximately uniform along lambda unless the lambda chromosome contains a chi sequence. Recombination in recD mutant strains is focused toward the site of action of a type II restriction enzyme acting in vivo on lambda. The distribution of exchanges in isogenic recD+ strains is scarcely altered by the restriction enzyme (unless the phage contains an otherwise silent chi). The distribution of exchanges in recD mutants is strongly affected by lambda DNA replication. The distribution of exchanges on lambda growing in rec+ cells is not influenced by DNA replication. The exchange distribution along lambda in recD mutant cells is independent of chi in a variety of conditions. Recombination in rec+ cells is chi influenced. Recombination in recD mutants depends on recC function, occurs in strains deleted for rac prophage, and is independent of recJ, which is known to be required for lambda recombination via the RecF pathway. We entertain two models for recombination in recD mutants: (i) recombination in recD mutants may proceed via double-chain break--repair, as it does in lambda's Red pathway and E. coli's RecE pathway; (ii) the RecBC enzyme, missing its D subunit, is equivalent to the wild-type, RecBCD, enzyme after that enzyme has been activated by a chi sequence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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