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Environ Mol Mutagen. 1988;11(2):241-55.

Adaptive response of Escherichia coli to alkylation damage.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester 01655.


Treatment of cells with low levels of alkylating agents for extended periods of time causes them to become resistant to the lethal and mutagenic effects of subsequent high-level challenge treatments with alkylating agents. This increased resistance has been called the adaptive response to alkylation damage and results from the induction of an alkylation-specific DNA repair response. The adaptive response is most efficiently induced by methylating agents and is most effective against the lethal and mutagenic effects of methylation damage to DNA. Four genes have been identified as components of this response, ada, alkA, alkB and aidB. The functions of two of these genes are known. AlkA protein functions as a glycosylase that repairs N3-meA, N3-meG, O2-meT, and O2-meC residues in DNA, and Ada protein functions as an alkyltransferase that removes alkyl groups from O6-meG, O4-meT residues as well as methylphosphotriesters. After it interacts with methylated DNA, Ada protein functions as a positive regulatory element that controls the expression of the adaptive response by stimulating the expression of the ada-alkB operon, and the alkA and aidB genes.

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