Induction of Only One SOS Operon, umuDC, Is Required for SOS Mutagenesis in Escherichia Coli

Mol Gen Genet. 1993 May;239(1-2):137-44. doi: 10.1007/BF00281612.


The actions of UmuDC and RecA proteins, respectively in SOS mutagenesis are studied here with the following experimental strategy. We used lexAl (Ind-) bacteria to maintain all SOS proteins at their basal concentrations and then selectively increased the concentration of either UmuDC or RecA protein. For this purpose, we isolated operator-constitutive mutations oc in the umuDC and umuD'C operons and also used the oc98-recA mutation. The oc1-umuDC mutation prevents LexA repressor from binding to the operator and improves the Pribnow box consensus sequence. As a result, 5000 UmuD and 500 UmuC molecules per cell were produced in lexAl bacteria. This concentration is sufficient to restore SOS mutagenesis. The level of RecA protein present in the repressed state promoted full UmuD cleavage. Overproduction of RecA alone did not promote SOS mutagenesis. Increasing the level of RecA in the presence of high concentrations of UmuDC proteins has no further effect on SOS mutagenesis. We conclude that, after DNA damage, umuDC is the only SOS operon that must be induced in Escherichia coli to promote SOS mutagenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis
  • Operator Regions, Genetic
  • Operon*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Rec A Recombinases / genetics*
  • Rec A Recombinases / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • SOS Response, Genetics / genetics*
  • Serine Endopeptidases*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • LexA protein, Bacteria
  • Repressor Proteins
  • UmuC protein, E coli
  • Rec A Recombinases
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • UmuD protein, E coli
  • Serine Endopeptidases