Role of DNA ligase in the illegitimate recombination that generates λbio-transducing phages in Escherichia coli

Justin Courcelle, Arkady Khodursky, Brian Peter, Patrick O. Brown, Philip C. Hanawalt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

We studied the role of DNA ligase in illegitimate recombination in Escherichia coli. A temperature sensitive mutation in the lig gene reduced the frequency with which λbio-transducing phages were generated to 10-14% of that of wild type under UV irradiation. Reintroduction of the lig gene into this mutant restored the frequency of recombinant phage generation to that of wild type. Furthermore, overexpression of DNA ligase enhanced illegitimate recombination by 10-fold with or without UV irradiation. In addition, when DNA ligase was present in only limited amounts, UV-induced or spontaneous illegitimate recombination occurred exclusively at hotspot sites that have relatively long sequences of homology (9 or 13 bp). However, when DNA ligase was overexpressed, most of the illegitimate recombination took place at non-hotspot sites having only short sequences of homology (<4 bp). Thus, the level of ligase activity affects the frequency of illegitimate recombination, the length of sequence homology at the recombination sites, and the preference for recombination at hotspots, at least after UV irradiation. These observations support our hypothesis that the illegitimate recombination that generates λbio-transducing phages is mediated by the DNA break-and-join mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalGenetics
Volume158
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 22 2001

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