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Free Content Escherichia coli cells bearing mutA, a mutant glyV tRNA gene, express a recA-dependent error-prone DNA replication activity

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A base substitution mutation (mutA) in the Escherichia coli glyV tRNA gene potentiates asp → gly mistranslation and confers a strong mutator phenotype that is SOS independent, but requires recA, recB and recC genes. Here, we demonstrate that mutA cells express an error-prone DNA polymerase by using an in vitro experimental system based on the conversion of phage M13 single-stranded viral DNA bearing a model mutagenic lesion to the double-stranded replicative form. Amplification of the newly synthesized strand followed by multiplex DNA sequence analysis revealed that mutation fixation at 3,N4-ethenocytosine (C) was ≈3% when the DNA was replicated by normal cell extracts, ≈48% when replicated by mutA cell extracts and ≈3% when replicated by mutA recA double mutant cell extracts, in complete agreement with previous in vivo results. Mutagenesis at undamaged DNA sites was significantly elevated by mutA cell-free extracts in the M13 lacZ(α) forward mutagenesis system. Neither polA (DNA polymerase I) nor polB (DNA polymerase II) genes are required for the mutA phenotype, suggesting that the phenotype is mediated through a modification of DNA polymerase III or the activation of a previously unidentified DNA polymerase. These findings define the major features of a novel mutagenic pathway and imply the existence of previously unrecognized links between translation, recombination and replication.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Medicine and Dentistry — New Jersey Medical School, 185 South Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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