Escherichia coli DNA polymerase III is responsible for the high level of spontaneous mutations in mutT strains.

Research paper by Masami M Yamada, Masatomi M Shimizu, Atsushi A Katafuchi, Petr P Grúz, Shingo S Fujii, Yukio Y Usui, Robert P RP Fuchs, Takehiko T Nohmi

Indexed on: 10 Oct '12Published on: 10 Oct '12Published in: Molecular Microbiology


Reactive oxygen species induce oxidative damage in DNA precursors, i.e. dNTPs, leading to point mutations upon incorporation. Escherichia coli mutT strains, deficient in the activity hydrolysing 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine 5'-triphosphate (8-oxo-dGTP), display more than a 100-fold higher spontaneous mutation frequency over the wild-type strain. 8-oxo-dGTP induces A to C transversions when misincorporated opposite template A. Here, we report that DNA pol III incorporates 8-oxo-dGTP ≈ 20 times more efficiently opposite template A compared with template C. Single, double or triple deletions of pol I, pol II, pol IV or pol V had modest effects on the mutT mutator phenotype. Only the deletion of all four polymerases led to a 70% reduction of the mutator phenotype. While pol III may account for nearly all 8-oxo-dGTP incorporation opposite template A, it only extends ≈ 30% of them, the remaining 70% being extended by the combined action of pol I, pol II, pol IV or pol V. The unique property of pol III, a C-family DNA polymerase present only in eubacteria, to preferentially incorporate 8-oxo-dGTP opposite template A during replication might explain the high spontaneous mutation frequency in E. coli mutT compared with the mammalian counterparts lacking the 8-oxo-dGTP hydrolysing activities.