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Generation of an endogenous DNA-methylating agent by nitrosation in Escherichia coli.

By P Taverna and B Sedgwick


Escherichia coli ada ogt mutants, which are totally deficient in O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferases, have an increased spontaneous mutation rate. This phenotype is particularly evident in starving cells and suggests the generation of an endogenous DNA alkylating agent under this growth condition. We have found that in wild-type cells, the level of the inducible Ada protein is 20-fold higher in stationary-phase and starving cells than in rapidly growing cells, thus enhancing the defense of these cells against DNA damage. The increased level of Ada in stationary cells is dependent on RpoS, a stationary-phase-specific sigma subunit of RNA polymerase. We have also identified a potential source of the mutagenic agent. Nitrosation of amides and related compounds can generate directly acting methylating agents and can be catalyzed by bacteria] enzymes. E. coli moa mutants, which are defective in the synthesis of a molybdopterin cofactor required by several reductases, are deficient in nitrosation activity. It is reported here that a moa mutant shows reduced generation of a mutagenic methylating agent from methylamine (or methylurea) and nitrite added to agar plates. Moreover, a moa mutation eliminates much of the spontaneous mutagenesis in ada ogt mutants. These observations indicate that the major endogenous mutagen is not S-adenosylmethionine but arises by bacterially catalyzed nitrosation

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1996
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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