Two mutants of the EcoRI endonuclease (R200K and E144C) predominantly nick only one strand of the DNA substrate. Temperature sensitivity of the mutant enzymes allowed us to study the consequences of inflicting DNA nicks at EcoRI sites in vivo. Expression of the EcoRI endonuclease mutants in the absence of the EcoRI methyltransferase induces the SOS DNA repair response and greatly reduces viability of recA56, recB21 and lexA3 mutant strains of Escherichia coli. In parallel studies, overexpression of the EcoRV endonuclease in cells also expressing the EcoRV methyltransferase was used to introduce nicks at non-cognate EcoRV sites in the bacterial genome. EcoRV overproduction was lethal in recA56 and recB21 mutant strains and moderately toxic in a lexA3 mutant strain. The toxic effect of EcoRV overproduction could be partially alleviated by introduction into the cells of multiple copies of the E. coli DNA ligase gene. These observations suggest that an increased number of DNA nicks can overwhelm the repair capacity of DNA ligase, resulting in the conversion of a proportion of DNA nicks into DNA lesions that require recombination for repair.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology