The mechanism of DNA replication is one of the driving forces of genome evolution. Bacterial DNA polymerase III, the primary complex of DNA replication, consists of PolC and DnaE. PolC is conserved in Gram-positive bacteria, especially in the Firmicutes with low GC content, whereas DnaE is widely conserved in most Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. PolC contains two domains, the 3′-5′exonuclease domain and the polymerase domain, while DnaE only possesses the polymerase domain. Accordingly, DnaE does not have the proofreading function; in Escherichia coli, another enzyme DnaQ performs this function. In most bacteria, the fidelity of DNA replication is maintained by 3′-5′ exonuclease and a mismatch repair (MMR) system. However, we found that most Actinobacteria (a group of Gram-positive bacteria with high GC content) appear to have lost the MMR system and chromosomes may be replicated by DnaE-type DNA polymerase III with DnaQ-like 3′-5′ exonuclease. We tested the mutation bias of Bacillus subtilis, which belongs to the Firmicutes and found that the wild type strain is AT-biased while the mutS-deletant strain is remarkably GC-biased. If we presume that DnaE tends to make mistakes that increase GC content, these results can be explained by the mutS deletion (i.e., deletion of the MMR system). Thus, we propose that GC content is regulated by DNA polymerase and MMR system, and the absence of polC genes, which participate in the MMR system, may be the reason for the increase of GC content in Gram-positive bacteria such as Actinobacteria.
DNA polymerase III; GC content; mismatch repair; Gram-positive; Actinobacteria
Bacteria with reduced DNA polymerase I activity have increased sensitivity to killing by chain-terminating nucleotides (S. A. Rashbaum and N. R. Cozzarelli, Nature 264:679–680, 1976). We have used this observation as the basis of a genetic strategy to identify mutations in the dnaE (polC) gene of Escherichia coli that alter sensitivity to 2′,3′-dideoxyadenosine (ddA). Two dnaE (polC) mutant strains with increased sensitivity to ddA and one strain with increased resistance were isolated and characterized. The mutant phenotypes are due to single amino acid substitutions in the α subunit, the protein product of the dnaE (polC) gene. Increased sensitivity to ddA is produced by the L329F and H417Y substitutions, and increased resistance is produced by the G365S substitution. The L329F and H417Y substitutions also reduce the accuracy of DNA replication (the mutator phenotype), while the G365S substitution increases accuracy (the antimutator phenotype). All of the amino acid substitutions are in conserved regions near essential aspartate residues. These results prove the effectiveness of the genetic strategy in identifying informative dnaE (polC) mutations that can be used to elucidate the molecular basis of nucleotide interactions in the α subunit of the DNA polymerase III holoenzyme.
The fidelity role of DNA polymerase I in chromosomal DNA replication in E. coli was investigated using the rpoB forward target. These experiments indicated that in a strain carrying a proofreading-exonuclease-defective form of Pol I (polAexo mutant) the frequency of rpoB mutations increased by about 2-fold, consistent with a model that the fidelity of DNA polymerase I is important in controlling the overall fidelity of chromosomal DNA replication. DNA sequencing of rpoB mutants revealed that the Pol I exonuclease deficiency lead to an increase in a variety of base-substitution mutations. A polAexo mutator effect was also observed in strains defective in DNA mismatch repair and carrying the dnaE915 antimutator allele. Overall, the data are consistent with a proposed role of Pol I in the faithful completion of Okazaki fragment gaps at the replication fork.
DNA replication fidelity; DNA polymerase; Mutagenesis; Proofreading; Okazaki fragment
The spontaneous deamination of cytosine produces uracil mispaired with guanine in DNA, which will produce a mutation, unless repaired. In all domains of life, uracil-DNA glycosylases (UDGs) are responsible for the elimination of uracil from DNA. Thus, UDGs contribute to the integrity of the genetic information and their loss results in mutator phenotypes. We are interested in understanding the role of UDG genes in the evolutionary variation of the rate and the spectrum of spontaneous mutations. To this end, we determined the presence or absence of the five main UDG families in more than 1,000 completely sequenced genomes and analyzed their patterns of gene loss and gain in eubacterial lineages. We observe nonindependent patterns of gene loss and gain between UDG families in Eubacteria, suggesting extensive functional overlap in an evolutionary timescale. Given that UDGs prevent transitions at G:C sites, we expected the loss of UDG genes to bias the mutational spectrum toward a lower equilibrium G + C content. To test this hypothesis, we used phylogenetically independent contrasts to compare the G + C content at intergenic and 4-fold redundant sites between lineages where UDG genes have been lost and their sister clades. None of the main UDG families present in Eubacteria was associated with a higher G + C content at intergenic or 4-fold redundant sites. We discuss the reasons of this negative result and report several features of the evolution of the UDG superfamily with implications for their functional study. uracil-DNA glycosylase, mutation rate evolution, mutational bias, GC content, DNA repair, mutator gene.
We isolated several new mutator mutations of the Escherichia coli replicative polymerase dnaE subunit alpha and used them and a previously reported dnaE mutation to study spontaneous frameshift and base substitution mutations. Two of these dnaE strains produce many more mutants when grown on rich (Luria-Bertani) than on minimal medium. A differential effect of the medium was not observed when these dnaE mutations were combined with a mismatch repair mutation. The selection scheme for the dnaE mutations required that they be able to complement a temperature-sensitive strain. However, the ability to complement is not related to the mutator effect for at least one of the mutants. Comparison of the mutation rates for frameshift and base substitution mutations in mutS and dnaE mutS strains suggests that the mismatch repair proteins respond differently to the two types of change. Deletion of dinB from both chromosome and plasmid resulted in a four- to fivefold decrease in the rate of frameshift and base substitution mutations in a dnaE mutS double mutant background. This reduction indicates that most mistakes in replication occur as a result of the action of the auxiliary rather than the replicative polymerase in this dnaE mutant. Deletion of dinB from strains carrying a wild-type dnaE had a measurable effect, suggesting that a fraction of spontaneous mutations occur as a result of dinB polymerase action even in cells with a normal replicative polymerase.
The fractional guanine + cytosine (GC) contents of sequenced bacterial genomes range from 13% to 75%. Despite several decades of research aimed at understanding this wide variation, the forces controlling GC content are not well understood. Recent work has suggested that a universal adenine + thymine (AT) mutational bias exists in all bacteria and that the elevated GC contents found in some bacterial genomes is due to genome-wide selection for increased GC content. These results are generally consistent with the low GC contents observed in most strict endosymbiotic bacterial genomes, where the loss of DNA repair mechanisms combined with the population genetic effects of small effective population sizes and decreased recombination should lower the efficacy of selection and shift the equilibrium GC content in the mutationally favored AT direction. Surprisingly, the two smallest bacterial genomes, Candidatus Hodgkinia cicadicola (144 kb) and Candidatus Tremblaya princeps (139 kb), have the unusual combination of highly reduced genomes and elevated GC contents, raising the possibility that these bacteria may be exceptions to the otherwise apparent universal bacterial AT mutational bias. Here, using population genomic data generated from the Hodgkinia genome project, we show that Hodgkinia has a clear AT mutational bias. These results provide further evidence that an AT mutational bias is universal in bacteria, even in strict endosymbionts with elevated genomic GC contents.
GC content; endosymbiont; mutational bias
PolC is the C-family replicative polymerase in low G+C content Gram-positive bacteria. To date several structures of C-family polymerases have been reported, including a high resolution crystal structure of a ternary complex of PolC with DNA and incoming deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP). However, kinetic information needed to understand the enzymatic mechanism of C-family polymerases is limited. For this study we have performed a detailed steady-state and pre-steady-state kinetic characterization of correct dNTP incorporation by PolC from the Gram-positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, using a construct lacking both the non-conserved N-terminal domain and the 3′–5′ exonuclease domain (Sau-PolC-ΔNΔExo). We find that Sau-PolC-ΔNΔExo has a very fast catalytic rate (kpol 330 s−1) but also dissociates from DNA rapidly (koff ∼150 s−1), which explains the low processivity of PolC in the absence of sliding clamp processivity factor. Although Sau-PolC-ΔNΔExo follows the overall enzymatic pathway defined for other polymerases, some significant differences exist. The most striking feature is that the nucleotidyl transfer reaction for Sau-PolC-ΔNΔExo is reversible and is in equilibrium with dNTP binding. Simulation of the reaction pathway suggests that rate of pyrophosphate release, or a conformational change required for pyrophosphate release, is much slower than rate of bond formation. The significance of these findings is discussed in the context of previous data showing that binding of the β-clamp processivity factor stimulates the intrinsic nucleotide incorporation rate of the C-family polymerases, in addition to increasing processivity.
Cells of the Escherichia coli dnaE(Ts) dnaE74 and dnaE486 mutants die after 4 h of incubation at 40°C in Luria-Bertani medium. Cell death is preceded by elongation, is inhibited by chloramphenicol, tetracycline, or rifampin, and is dependent on cell density. Cells survive at 40°C when they are incubated at a high population density or at a low density in conditioned medium, but they die when the medium is supplemented with glucose and amino acids. Deletion of recA or sulA has no effect. We isolated suppressors which survived for long periods at 40°C but did not form colonies. The suppressors protected against hydroxyurea-induced killing. Sequence and complementation analysis indicated that suppression was due to mutation in the cydA gene. The DNA content of dnaE mutants increased about eightfold in 4 h at 40°C, as did the DNA content of the suppressed strains. The amount of plasmid pBR322 in a dnaE74 strain increased about fourfold, as measured on gels, and the electrophoretic pattern appeared to be normal even though the viability of the parent cells decreased 2 logs. Transformation activity also increased. 4′,6′-Diamidino-2-phenylindole staining demonstrated that there were nucleoids distributed throughout the dnaE filaments formed at 40°C, indicating that there was segregation of the newly formed DNA. We concluded that the DNA synthesized was physiologically competent, particularly since the number of viable cells of the suppressed strain increased during the first few hours of incubation. These observations support the view that E. coli senses the rate of DNA synthesis and inhibits septation when the rate of DNA synthesis falls below a critical level relative to the level of RNA and protein synthesis.
Staphylococcus aureus causes disease in humans and a wide array of animals. Of note, S. aureus mastitis of ruminants, including cows, sheep, and goats, results in major economic losses worldwide. Extensive variation in genome content exists among S. aureus pathogenic clones. However, the genomic variation among S. aureus strains infecting different animal species has not been well examined. To investigate variation in the genome content of human and ruminant S. aureus, we carried out whole-genome PCR scanning (WGPS), comparative genomic hybridizations (CGH), and the directed DNA sequence analysis of strains of human, bovine, ovine, and caprine origin. Extensive variation in genome content was discovered, including host- and ruminant-specific genetic loci. Ovine and caprine strains were genetically allied, whereas bovine strains were heterogeneous in gene content. As expected, mobile genetic elements such as pathogenicity islands and bacteriophages contributed to the variation in genome content between strains. However, differences specific for ruminant strains were restricted to regions of the conserved core genome, which contained allelic variation in genes encoding proteins of known and unknown function. Many of these proteins are predicted to be exported and could play a role in host-pathogen interactions. The genomic regions of difference identified by the whole-genome approaches adopted in the current study represent excellent targets for studies of the molecular basis of S. aureus host adaptation.
dnaE, the gene encoding one of the two replication-specific DNA polymerases (Pols) of low-GC-content gram-positive bacteria (E. Dervyn et al., Science 294:1716-1719, 2001; R. Inoue et al., Mol. Genet. Genomics 266:564-571, 2001), was cloned from Bacillus subtilis, a model low-GC gram-positive organism. The gene was overexpressed in Escherichia coli. The purified recombinant product displayed inhibitor responses and physical, catalytic, and antigenic properties indistinguishable from those of the low-GC gram-positive-organism-specific enzyme previously named DNA Pol II after the polB-encoded DNA Pol II of E. coli. Whereas a polB-like gene is absent from low-GC gram-positive genomes and whereas the low-GC gram-positive DNA Pol II strongly conserves a dnaE-like, Pol III primary structure, it is proposed that it be renamed DNA polymerase III E (Pol III E) to accurately reflect its replicative function and its origin from dnaE. It is also proposed that DNA Pol III, the other replication-specific Pol of low-GC gram-positive organisms, be renamed DNA polymerase III C (Pol III C) to denote its origin from polC. By this revised nomenclature, the DNA Pols that are expressed constitutively in low-GC gram-positive bacteria would include DNA Pol I, the dispensable repair enzyme encoded by polA, and the two essential, replication-specific enzymes Pol III C and Pol III E, encoded, respectively, by polC and dnaE.
The RecJ protein of Escherichia coli plays an important role in a number of DNA repair and recombination pathways. RecJ catalyzes processive degradation of single-stranded DNA in a 5′-to-3′ direction. Sequences highly related to those encoding RecJ can be found in most of the eubacterial genomes sequenced to date. From alignment of these sequences, seven conserved motifs are apparent. At least five of these motifs are shared among a large family of proteins in eubacteria, eukaryotes, and archaea, including the PPX1 polyphosphatase of yeast and Drosophila Prune. Archaeal genomes are particularly rich in such sequences, but it has not been clear whether any of the encoded proteins play a functional role similar to that of RecJ exonuclease. We have investigated three such proteins from Methanococcus jannaschii with the strongest overall sequence similarity to E. coli RecJ. Two of the genes, MJ0977 and MJ0831, partially complement a recJ mutant phenotype in E. coli. The expression of MJ0977 in E. coli resulted in high levels of a thermostable single-stranded DNase activity with properties similar to those of RecJ exonuclease. Despite overall weak sequence similarity between the MJ0977 product and RecJ, these nucleases are likely to have similar biological functions.
Until now, the genomic DNA of all eubacteria analyzed has been hyper-curved, its global intrinsic curvature being higher than that of a random sequence. In contrast, that rule failed for archaea or eukaryotes, which could be either hypo- or hyper-curved. The existence of the rule suggested that, at least for eubacteria, global intrinsic curvature is adaptive. However, the present results from analyzing 21 eubacterial and six archaeal genomes argue against adaptation. First, there are two eubacterial exceptions to the former rule. More significantly, we found that the dinucleotide composition of the genome alone (which lacks all sequence information) is enough to determine the genome curvature. Additional evidence against adaptation came from showing that the global curvature of bacterial genomes could not have evolved under either of two complementary models of curvature selection: (i) that curvature is selected locally from unbiased variability; (ii) that curvature is established globally through the selection of a curvature-altering mutational bias. We found that the observed relationship between curvature and dinucleotide composition is incompatible with model (i). We also found that, contrary to the predictions of model (ii), the dinucleotide compositions of bacterial genomes were not statistically special in their curvature-related properties (when compared to stochastically generated dinucleotide compositions).
In wild-type Escherichia coli, translesion replication is largely dependent upon the UmuD′2C complex (DNA polymerase V [polV]) or its plasmid-encoded homologs, such as MucA′2B. Interestingly, both the efficiency of translesion replication of a T-T cis-syn dimer and the spectra of mutations observed are different in Umu- and Muc-expressing strains. We have investigated whether the polIII core is responsible for these differences by measuring the frequency of dimer bypass, the error rate of bypass, and the resulting mutation spectrum in mutants carrying a deletion of dnaQ (ɛ subunit) or holE (θ subunit) or carrying the dnaQ allele mutD5, which is deficient in proofreading but is competent in the structural function of ɛ, or the dnaE antimutator allele spq-2. The chromosomal copy of the umuDC operon was deleted in each strain, and the UmuDC, UmuD′C, MucAB, or MucA′B proteins were expressed from a low-copy-number plasmid. With only few exceptions, we found that the characteristically different mutation spectra resulting from Umu- and Muc-mediated bypass are maintained in all of the strains investigated, indicating that differences in the activity or structure of the polIII core are not responsible for the observed phenotype. We also demonstrate that the MucA′2B complex is more efficient in promoting translesion replication than the UmuD′2C proteins and show that, contrary to expectation, the T-T dimer is bypassed more accurately by MucA′2B than by UmuD′2C. These results are consistent with the view that in a wild-type cell, the polV-like enzymes are responsible for the spectra of mutations generated during translesion replication and that polIII may simply be required to fix the misincorporations as mutations by completing chromosomal replication. Our observations also show that the mutagenic properties of a lesion can depend strongly on the particular enzyme employed in bypass.
The elemental composition of proteins influences the quantities of different elements required by organisms. Here, we considered variation in the sulphur content of whole proteomes among 19 Archaea, 122 Eubacteria and 10 eukaryotes whose genomes have been fully sequenced. We found that different species vary greatly in the sulphur content of their proteins, and that average sulphur content of proteomes and genome base composition are related. Forces contributing to variation in proteomic sulphur content appear to operate quite uniformly across the proteins of different species. In particular, the sulphur content of orthologous proteins was frequently correlated with mean proteomic sulphur contents. Among prokaryotes, proteomic sulphur content tended to be greater in anaerobes, relative to non-anaerobes. Thermophiles tended to have lower proteomic sulphur content than non-thermophiles, consistent with the thermolability of cysteine and methionine residues. This work suggests that persistent environmental growth conditions can influence the evolution of elemental composition of whole proteomes in a manner that may have important implications for the amount of sulphur used by living organisms to build proteins. It extends previous studies that demonstrated links between transient changes in environmental conditions and the elemental composition of subsets of proteins expressed under these conditions.
cysteine; methionine; sulphur; proteome; atomic composition; thermophile
A pair of species within the genus Silene have evolved the largest known mitochondrial genomes, coinciding with extreme changes in mutation rate, recombination activity, and genome structure.
Genome size and complexity vary tremendously among eukaryotic species and their organelles. Comparisons across deeply divergent eukaryotic lineages have suggested that variation in mutation rates may explain this diversity, with increased mutational burdens favoring reduced genome size and complexity. The discovery that mitochondrial mutation rates can differ by orders of magnitude among closely related angiosperm species presents a unique opportunity to test this hypothesis. We sequenced the mitochondrial genomes from two species in the angiosperm genus Silene with recent and dramatic accelerations in their mitochondrial mutation rates. Contrary to theoretical predictions, these genomes have experienced a massive proliferation of noncoding content. At 6.7 and 11.3 Mb, they are by far the largest known mitochondrial genomes, larger than most bacterial genomes and even some nuclear genomes. In contrast, two slowly evolving Silene mitochondrial genomes are smaller than average for angiosperms. Consequently, this genus captures approximately 98% of known variation in organelle genome size. The expanded genomes reveal several architectural changes, including the evolution of complex multichromosomal structures (with 59 and 128 circular-mapping chromosomes, ranging in size from 44 to 192 kb). They also exhibit a substantial reduction in recombination and gene conversion activity as measured by the relative frequency of alternative genome conformations and the level of sequence divergence between repeat copies. The evolution of mutation rate, genome size, and chromosome structure can therefore be extremely rapid and interrelated in ways not predicted by current evolutionary theories. Our results raise the hypothesis that changes in recombinational processes, including gene conversion, may be a central force driving the evolution of both mutation rate and genome structure.
A fundamental challenge in evolutionary biology is to explain why organisms exhibit dramatic variation in genome size and complexity. One hypothesis predicts that high rates of mutation in DNA sequence create selection against large and complex genomes, which are more susceptible to mutational disruption. Species of flowering plants in the genus Silene vary by approximately 100-fold in the rates of mutation in their mitochondrial DNA, providing an excellent opportunity to test the predicted effects of high mutation rates on genome evolution. Contrary to expectation, Silene species with elevated mutation rates have experienced dramatic expansions in mitochondrial genome size compared to their slowly evolving relatives, resulting in the largest known mitochondrial genomes. In addition to the increases in size and mutation rate, these genomes also reveal a history of rapid change in genome structure. They have been fragmented into dozens of chromosomes and appear to have experienced major reductions in recombination activity. All of these changes have occurred in just the past few million years. This mitochondrial genome diversity within the genus Silene provides a striking example of rapid genomic change and raises new hypotheses regarding the relationship between mutation rate and genome evolution.
We have previously isolated seven mutants of Escherichia coli which replicate their DNA with increased fidelity. These mutants were isolated as suppressors of the elevated mutability of a mismatch-repair-defective mutL strain. Each mutant was shown to contain a single amino acid substitution in the dnaE gene product, the alpha (i.e., polymerase) subunit of DNA polymerase III holoenzyme responsible for replicating the E. coli chromosome. The mechanism(s) by which these antimutators exert their effect is of interest. Here, we have examined the effects of the antimutator alleles in a mutD5 mutator strain. This strain carries a mutation in the dnaQ gene, which results in defective exonucleolytic proofreading. Our results show that dnaE mutations also confer a strong antimutator phenotype in this background, the effects being generally much greater than those observed previously in the mutL background. The results suggest that the dnaE antimutator alleles can exert their effect independently of exonucleolytic proofreading activity. The large magnitude of the antimutator effects in the mutD5 background can be ascribed, at least in part, to the (additional) restoration of DNA mismatch repair, which is generally impaired in mutD5 strains because of error saturation. The high mutability of mutD5 strains was exploited to isolate a strong new dnaE antimutator allele on the basis of its ability to suppress the high reversion rate of an A.T-->T.A transversion in this background. A model suggesting how the dnaE antimutator alleles might exert their effects in proofreading-proficient and -deficient backgrounds is presented.
The polC gene of Bacillus subtilis is defined by five temperature-sensitive mutations and the 6-(p-hydroxyphenylazo)-uracil (HPUra) resistance mutation azp-12. Biochemical evidence suggests that polC codes for the 160-kilodalton DNA polymerase III. A recombinant plasmid, p154t, was isolated and found to contain the azp-12 marker and one end of the polC gene (N. C. Brown and M. H. Barnes, J. Cell. Biochem. 78 [Suppl.]: 116, 1983). The azp-12 marker was localized to a 1-kilobase DNA segment which was used as a probe to isolate recombinant lambda phages containing polC region sequences. A complete polC gene was constructed by in vitro ligation of DNA segments derived from two of the recombinant phages. The resulting plasmid, pRO10, directed the synthesis of four proteins of 160, 76, 39, and 32 kilodaltons in Escherichia coli maxicells. Recombination-deficient (recE) B. subtilis PSL1 containing pRO10 produced an HPUra-resistant polymerase III activity which was lost when the strain was cured of pRO10. In vivo, the HPUra resistance of the plasmid-encoded polymerase III appeared to be recessive to the resident HPUra-sensitive polymerase III enzyme.
Most of the DNA variations found in bacterial species are in the form of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), but there is some debate regarding how much of this variation comes from mutation versus recombination. The nitrogen-fixing symbiotic bacteria Rhizobium etli is highly variable in both genomic structure and gene content. However, no previous report has provided a detailed genomic analysis of this variation at nucleotide level or the role of recombination in generating diversity in this bacterium. Here, we compared draft genomic sequences versus complete genomic sequences to obtain reliable measures of genetic diversity and then estimated the role of recombination in the generation of genomic diversity among Rhizobium etli.
We identified high levels of DNA polymorphism in R. etli, and found that there was an average divergence of 4% to 6% among the tested strain pairs. DNA recombination events were estimated to affect 3% to 10% of the genomic sample analyzed. In most instances, the nucleotide diversity (π) was greater in DNA segments with recombinant events than in non-recombinant segments. However, this degree of recombination was not sufficiently large to disrupt the congruence of the phylogenetic trees, and further evaluation of recombination in strains quartets indicated that the recombination levels in this species are proportionally low.
Our data suggest that R. etli is a species composed of separated lineages with low homologous recombination among the strains. Horizontal gene transfer, particularly via the symbiotic plasmid characteristic of this species, seems to play an important role in diversity but the lineages maintain their evolutionary cohesiveness.
Nuclear DNA content variation over orders of magnitude across species has been attributed to 'junk' repetitive DNA with limited adaptive significance. By contrast, our previous work on Silene latifolia showed that DNA content is negatively correlated with flower size, a character of clear adaptive relevance. The present paper explores this relationship in a broader phylogenetic context to investigate the long-term evolutionary impacts of DNA content variation. The relationship between nuclear DNA content and phenotype variation was determined for four closely related species of Silene section Elisanthe (Caryophyllaceae). In addition to a consistent sexual dimorphism in DNA content across all of the species, we found DNA content variation among populations within, as well as among, species. We also found a general trend towards a negative correlation between DNA content and flower and leaf size over all four species, within males and females as well as overall. These results indicate that repetitive DNA may play a role in long-term phenotypic evolution.
Complex viruses that encode their own initiation proteins and subvert the host’s elongation apparatus have provided valuable insights into DNA replication. Using purified bacteriophage SPP1 and Bacillus subtilis proteins, we have reconstituted a rolling circle replication system that recapitulates genetically defined protein requirements. Eleven proteins are required: phage-encoded helicase (G40P), helicase loader (G39P), origin binding protein (G38P) and G36P single-stranded DNA-binding protein (SSB); and host-encoded PolC and DnaE polymerases, processivity factor (β2), clamp loader (τ-δ-δ′) and primase (DnaG). This study revealed a new role for the SPP1 origin binding protein. In the presence of SSB, it is required for initiation on replication forks that lack origin sequences, mimicking the activity of the PriA replication restart protein in bacteria. The SPP1 replisome is supported by both host and viral SSBs, but phage SSB is unable to support B. subtilis replication, likely owing to its inability to stimulate the PolC holoenzyme in the B. subtilis context. Moreover, phage SSB inhibits host replication, defining a new mechanism by which bacterial replication could be regulated by a viral factor.
Cell survival, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) degradation, and the repair of DNA single-strand breaks were measured for Escherichia coli K-12 pol+, polA1, polC1026(ts), and polA1 polC1026(ts) cells after 137Cs gamma irradiation. The results indicate that DNA polymerase III is required for growth medium-dependent (type III) repair in polA+ or polA cells. In pol+ or polC cells, DNA polymerase I performs type II repair efficiently. The relative deficiencies of each of these strains in DNA repair generally correlate with their relative sensitivities to cell killing and with the extent of DNA degradation observed.
The recJ gene, identified in Escherichia coli, encodes a Mg+2-dependent 5′-to-3′ exonuclease with high specificity for single-strand DNA. Genetic and biochemical experiments implicate RecJ exonuclease in homologous recombination, base excision, and methyl-directed mismatch repair. Genes encoding proteins with strong similarities to RecJ have been found in every eubacterial genome sequenced to date, with the exception of Mycoplasma and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Multiple genes encoding proteins similar to RecJ are found in some eubacteria, including Bacillus and Helicobacter, and in the archaea. Among this divergent set of sequences, seven conserved motifs emerge. We demonstrate here that amino acids within six of these motifs are essential for both the biochemical and genetic functions of E. coli RecJ. These motifs may define interactions with Mg2+ ions or substrate DNA. A large family of proteins more distantly related to RecJ is present in archaea, eubacteria, and eukaryotes, including a hypothetical protein in the MgPa adhesin operon of Mycoplasma, a domain of putative polyA polymerases in Synechocystis and Aquifex, PRUNE of Drosophila, and an exopolyphosphatase (PPX1) of Saccharomyces cereviseae. Because these six RecJ motifs are shared between exonucleases and exopolyphosphatases, they may constitute an ancient phosphoesterase domain now found in all kingdoms of life.
Escherichia coli C strains containing different deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis mutations have been tested for their support of the DNA synthesis of bacteriophage P2 and its satellite phage P4. Bacteriophage P2 requires functional dnaB, dnaE, and dnaG E. coli gene products for DNA synthesis, whereas it does not require the products of the dnaA, dnaC, or dnaH genes. In contrast, the satellite virus P4 requires functional dnaE and dnaH gene products for DNA synthesis and does not need the products of the dnaA, dnaB, dnaC, and dnaG genes. Thus the P2 and P4 genomes are replicated differently, even though they are packaged in heads made of the same protein.
We successively subcloned the dnaE gene of Escherichia coli into pBR322, resulting in a plasmid that contains 4.6 kilobases of E. coli DNA. This plasmid can complement a dnaE temperature-sensitive mutation. A restriction map of the dnaE gene and the surrounding 10.7-kilobase region of the E. coli chromosome was determined. A unique HindIII restriction endonuclease site within the cloned segment of DNA was identified as a site required for expression of the dnaE gene. By using the maxicell plasmid-directed protein synthesizing system, we demonstrated that dnaE codes for the alpha subunit of DNA polymerase III.
A major goal in the study of molecular evolution is to unravel the mechanisms that induce variation in the germ line mutation rate and in the genome-wide mutation profile. The rate of germ line mutation is considerably higher for cytosines at CpG sites than for any other nucleotide in the human genome, an increase commonly attributed to cytosine methylation at CpG sites. The CpG mutation rate, however, is not uniform across the genome and, as methylation levels have recently been shown to vary throughout the genome, it has been hypothesized that methylation status may govern variation in the rate of CpG mutation.
Here, we use genome-wide methylation data from human sperm cells to investigate the impact of DNA methylation on the CpG substitution rate in introns of human genes. We find that there is a significant correlation between the extent of methylation and the substitution rate at CpG sites. Further, we show that the CpG substitution rate is positively correlated with non-CpG divergence, suggesting susceptibility to factors responsible for the general mutation rate in the genome, and negatively correlated with GC content. We only observe a minor contribution of gene expression level, while recombination rate appears to have no significant effect.
Our study provides the first direct empirical support for the hypothesis that variation in the level of germ line methylation contributes to substitution rate variation at CpG sites. Moreover, we show that other genomic features also impact on CpG substitution rate variation.