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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Apr 15;94(8):3860-5.

RecQ DNA helicase is a suppressor of illegitimate recombination in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, The Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, Takanawa, Japan.


Bloom syndrome and Werner syndrome are genetic disorders in which an increased rate of chromosomal abnormality is observed. The genes responsible for these diseases, BLM and WRN, have been cloned and identified as homologs of the Escherichia coli recQ genes. We studied the effect of recQ mutations on illegitimate recombination, which is an aberrant biological event related to the chromosomal abnormality in humans, and found that a variety of recQ mutations increased spontaneous illegitimate recombination by 20- to 300-fold and increased UV light-induced illegitimate recombination by 10- to 100-fold. Most lambda bio or lambda pro transducing phages are formed by the recombination events at several hot spots, which are enhanced by the recQ mutation. The analysis of nucleotide sequences at the recombination junction in the transducing phages indicates that recombination at the hot spot sites as well as the non-hot spot sites takes place between short homologous sequences. Enhancement of the recombination in the recQ mutants also occurs in the recA, recBC sbcBC, or recBC sbcA backgrounds, indicating that these recombination events are mediated by none of the known recombination pathways, RecBC, RecF, and RecE. We therefore concluded that the RecQ function suppresses illegitimate recombination that depends on short homologous regions. We discuss a model, based on the 3'-to-5' helicase activity of RecQ, to explain the role of this protein as a suppressor of illegitimate recombination.

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