DNA replication defect in Salmonella typhimurium mutants lacking the editing (epsilon) subunit of DNA polymerase III.


In Salmonella typhimurium, dnaQ null mutants (encoding the epsilon ...
In Salmonella typhimurium, dnaQ null mutants (encoding the epsilon editing subunit of DNA polymerase III [Pol III]) exhibit a severe growth defect when the genetic background is otherwise wild type. Suppression of the growth defect requires both a mutation affecting the alpha (polymerase) subunit of DNA polymerase III and adequate levels of DNA polymerase I. In the present paper, we report on studies that clarify the nature of the physiological defect imposed by the loss of epsilon and the mechanism of its suppression. Unsuppressed dnaQ mutants exhibited chronic SOS induction, indicating exposure of single-stranded DNA in vivo, most likely as gaps in double-stranded DNA. Suppression of the growth defect was associated with suppression of SOS induction. Thus, Pol I and the mutant Pol III combined to reduce the formation of single-stranded DNA or accelerate its maturation to double-stranded DNA. Studies with mutants in major DNA repair pathways supported the view that the defect in DNA metabolism in dnaQ mutants was at the level of DNA replication rather than of repair. The requirement for Pol I was satisfied by alleles of the gene for Pol I encoding polymerase activity or by rat DNA polymerase beta (which exhibits polymerase activity only). Consequently, normal growth is restored to dnaQ mutants when sufficient polymerase activity is provided and this compensatory polymerase activity can function independently of Pol III. The high level of Pol I polymerase activity may be required to satisfy the increased demand for residual DNA synthesis at regions of single-stranded DNA generated by epsilon-minus pol III. The emphasis on adequate polymerase activity in dnaQ mutants is also observed in the purified alpha subunit containing the suppressor mutation, which exhibits a modestly elevated intrinsic polymerase activity relative to that of wild-type alpha.




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