The nucleotide excision repair mechanism (NER) of Escherichia coli is responsible for the recognition and elimination of more than twenty different DNA lesions. Herein, we evaluated the in vivo role of NER in the repair of DNA adducts generated by psoralens (mono- or bi-functional) and UV-A light (PUVA) in E. coli. Cultures of wild-type E. coli K12 and mutants for uvrA, uvrB, uvrC or uvrAC genes were treated with PUVA and cell survival was determined. In parallel, kinetics of DNA repair was also evaluated by the comparison of DNA sedimentation profiles in all the strains after PUVA treatment. The uvrB mutant was more sensitive to PUVA treatment than all the other uvr mutant strains. Wild-type strain, and uvrA and uvrC mutants were able to repair PUVA-induced lesions, as seen by DNA sedimentation profiles, while the uvrB mutant was unable to repair the lesions. In addition, a quadruple fpg nth xth nfo mutant was unable to nick PUVA-treated DNA when the crude cell-free extract was used to perform plasmid nicking. These data suggest that DNA repair of PUVA-induced lesions may require base excision repair functions, despite proficient UvrABC activity. These results point to a specific role for UvrB protein in the repair of psoralen adducts, which appear to be independent of UvrA or UvrC proteins, as described for the classical UvrABC endonuclease mechanism.
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