A novel role for Escherichia coli endonuclease VIII in prevention of spontaneous G → T transversions

Jeffrey O. Blaisdell, Zafer Hatahet, Susan S. Wallace

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In the bacterium Escherichia coli, oxidized pyrimidines are removed by two DNA glycosylases, endonuclease III and endonuclease VIII (endo VIII), encoded by the nth and nei genes, respectively. Double mutants lacking both of these activities exhibit a high spontaneous mutation frequency, and here we show that all of the mutations observed in the double mutants were G:C→A:T transitions; no thymine mutations were found. These findings are in agreement with the preponderance of C→T transitions in the oxidative and spontaneous mutational databases. The major oxidized purine lesion in DNA, 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG), is processed by two DNA glycosylases, formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg), which removes 8-oxoG opposite C, and MutY DNA glycosylase, which removes misincorporated A opposite 8-oxoG. The high spontaneous mutation frequency previously observed in fpg mutY double mutants was significantly enhanced by the addition of the nei mutation, suggesting an overlap in the substrate specificities between endo VIII and Fpg/MutY. When the mutational specificity was examined, all of the mutations observed were G:C→T:A transversions, indicating that in the absence of Fpg and MutY, endo VIII serves as a backup activity to remove 8- oxoG. This was confirmed by showing that, indeed, endo VIII can recognize 8- oxoG in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6396-6402
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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