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Inefficient mismatch repair: genetic defects and down regulation


The mismatch repair system is involved in the maintenance of genomic integrity by editing DNA replication and recombination. However, although most mutations are neutral or deleterious, a mutator phenotype due to an inefficient mismatch repair may generate advantageous variants and may therefore be selected for. We review the evidence for inefficient mismatch repair due either to genetic defects in mismatch repair genes or to physiological conditions. Among natural isolates ofEscherichia coli andSalmonella enterica, about 1% are mutator bacteria, mostly deficient in mismatch repair (most of them defective in themutS gene). Characterization of mutators derived from laboratory strains led also to the isolation of mismatch repair mutants in which the most frequently found defects are inmutL andmutS. The correlation of the size of the antimutator genes with the frequency of their defective alleles amongE. coli andSalmonella strains reveals thatmutU mutants are underrepresented. Analysis of the progeny of a defined M13 phage heteroduplex DNA transfected intoE. coli cells shows that mismatch repair efficiency progressively decreases from the end of the exponential growth in K-12 and is variable among natural isolates. Implications of this defective mismatch repair activity for evolution and tumorigenesis will be discussed.

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Correspondence to François Taddei.

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Brégeon, D., Matic, I., Radman, M. et al. Inefficient mismatch repair: genetic defects and down regulation. J Genet 78, 21 (1999).

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  • mismatch repair
  • mutator
  • Escherichia coli
  • evolution
  • cancer