Involvement of Escherichia coli K-12 DNA polymerase I in the growth of bacteriophage Mu.

Abstract:

We examined several aspects of bacteriophage Mu development in Escherichia coli strains that carry mutations in the polA structural gene for DNA polymerase I (PolI). We found that polA mutants were markedly less efficient than PolI wild-type (PolI+) strains in their capacity to form stable Mu lysogens and to support normal lytic growth of phage Mu. The frequency of lysogenization was determined for polA mutants and their isogenic PolI+ derivatives, with the result that mutants were lysogenized 3 to 8 times less frequently than were PolI+ cells. In one-step growth experiments, we found that phage Mu grew less efficiently in polA cells than in PolI+ cells, as evidenced by a 50 to 100% increase in the latent period and a 20 to 40% decrease in mean burst size in mutant cells. A further difference noted in infected polA strains was a 10-fold reduction in the frequency of Mu-mediated transposition of chromosomal genes to an F plasmid. Pulse labeling and DNA-DNA hybridization assays to measure the rate of phage Mu DNA synthesis after the induction of thermosensitive prophages indicated that phage Mu replication began at about the same time in both polA and PolI+ strains, but proceeded at a slower rate in polA cells. We conclude that PolI is normally involved in the replication and integration of phage Mu. However, since phage Mu does not exhibit an absolute requirement for normal levels of PolI, it appears that residual PolI activity in the mutant strains, other cellular enzymes, or both can partially compensate for the absence of normal PolI activity.

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