A role for replication repair in the genesis of templated mutations

J Mol Biol. 2006 May 12;358(4):963-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2006.02.079. Epub 2006 Mar 30.


Replication repair mediates error-free bypass of DNA damage in a series of steps that include regression of the replication fork, primer-terminus switching to use the other daughter strand as an undamaged template, primer extension, primer switching back to its cognate template with the primer terminus now having bypassed the damage, and fork rearrangement to a normal configuration. By both genetic and biochemical criteria, bacteriophage T4 catalyzes replication repair with two alternative sets of proteins, one including the gp32 SSB and the gp41 DNA helicase and the other including the UvsX recombinase. In each pathway, synthesis is conducted by the gp43 DNA polymerase. Here we show that defects in gp32, gp41 or UvsX that impair replication repair also increase mutation rates generally, but especially for templated mutations. Such templated mutations are associated with palindromic or direct repeats that are either perfect or imperfect. Models of templated mutagenesis require that the primer terminus switches to an ectopic template, but one that yields mutations instead of error-free bypass. We suggest that the proteins that conduct replication repair normally direct a blocked primer strand specifically to the other daughter strand with considerable accuracy, but that strand switching becomes promiscuous when these proteins are mutationally impaired, thus promoting templated mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage T4 / genetics
  • Bacteriophage T4 / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / virology
  • Genes, Viral
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*


  • DNA, Viral