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A umuDC-independent SOS pathway for frameshift mutagenesis

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The chemical carcinogen N-acetoxy-N-2-acetylaminofluorene induces mainly frameshift mutations, which occur within two types of sequences (mutation hot spots): −1 frameshift mutations within contiguous guanine sequences and −2 frameshift mutations within alternating GC sequences such as the NarI and BssHII restriction site sequences. We have investigated the genetic control of mutagenesis at these sequences by means of a reversion assay using plasmids pW17 and pX2, which contain specific targets for contiguous guanine and alternating GC sequences, respectively. Our results suggest that mutations at these hot spot sequences are generated by two different genetic pathways, both involving induction of SOS functions. The two pathways differ both in their LexA-controlled gene and RecA protein requirements. In the mutation pathway that acts at contiguous guanine sequences, the RecA protein participates together with the umuDC gene products. In contrast, RecA is not essential for mutagenesis at alternating GC sequences, except to cleave the LexA repressor. The LexA-regulated gene product(s), which participate in this latter mutational pathway, do not involve umuDC but another as yet uncharacterized inducible function. We also show that wild-type RecA and RecA430 proteins exert an antagonistic effect on mutagenesis at alternating GC sequences, which is not observed either in the presence of activated RecA (RecA*), RecA730 or RecA495 proteins, or in the complete absence of RecA as in recA99. It is concluded that the −1 mutation pathway presents the same genetic requirements as the pathway for UV light mutagenesis, while the −2 mutation pathway defines a distinct SOS pathway for frameshift mutagenesis.

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Correspondence to R.P.P. Fuchs.

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Communicated by R. Devoret

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Maenhaut-Michele, G., Janet-Bintz, R. & Fuchs, R. A umuDC-independent SOS pathway for frameshift mutagenesis. Molec. Gen. Genet. 235, 373–380 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00279383

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Key words

  • Frameshift mutation hot spots
  • SOS system
  • N-2-acetylaminofluorene (AAF)
  • RecA and LexA