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Genetics. 1995 Nov;141(3):813-23.

Alkylating agents induce UVM, a recA-independent inducible mutagenic phenomenon in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, UMD-New Jersey Medical School, Newark 07103-2714, USA.


Noninstructive DNA damage in Escherichia coli induces SOS functions hypothesized to be required for mutagenesis and translesion DNA synthesis at noncoding DNA lesions. We have recently demonstrated that in E. coli cells incapable of SOS induction, prior UV-irradiation nevertheless strongly enhances mutagenesis at a noninstructive lesion borne on M13 DNA. Here, we address the question whether this effect, named UVM for UV modulation of mutagenesis, can be induced by other DNA damaging agents. Exponentially growing delta recA cells were pretreated with alkylating agents before transfection with M13 single-stranded DNA bearing a site-specific ethenocytosine residue. Effect of cell pretreatment on survival of the transfected DNA was determined as transfection efficiency. Mutagenesis at the ethenocytosine site in pretreated or untreated cells was analyzed by multiplex DNA sequencing, a phenotype-independent technology. Our data show that 1-methyl-3-nitro-1-nitrosoguanidine, N-nitroso-N-methylurea and dimethylsulfate, but not methyl iodide, are potent inducers of UVM. Because alkylating agents induce the adaptive response to defend against DNA alkylation, we asked if the genes constituting the adaptive response are required for UVM. Our data show that MNNG induction of UVM is independent of ada, alkA and alkB genes and define UVM as an inducible mutagenic phenomenon distinct from the E. coli adaptive and SOS responses.

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