Chromosome demise in the wake of ligase-deficient replication

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Bacterial DNA ligases, NAD +-dependent enzymes, are distinct from eukaryotic ATP-dependent ligases, representing promising targets for broad-spectrum antimicrobials. Yet, the chromosomal consequences of ligase-deficientDNAreplication, during which Okazaki fragments accumulate, are still unclear. Using ligA251(Ts), the strongest ligase mutant of Escherichia coli, we studied ligase-deficient DNA replication by genetic and physical approaches. Here we show that replication without ligase kills after a short resistance period.We found that double-strand break repair via RecA, RecBCD, RuvABC and RecG explains the transient resistance, whereas irreparable chromosomal fragmentation explains subsequent cell death. Remarkably, death is mostly prevented by elimination of linear DNAdegradation activity of ExoV, suggesting that non-allelic double-strand breaks behind replication forks precipitate DNA degradation that enlarge them into allelic double-strand gaps. Marker frequency profiling of synchronized replication reveals stalling of ligase-deficient forks with subsequent degradation of the DNA synthesized without ligase. The mechanism that converts unsealed nicks behind replication forks first into repairable double-strand breaks and then into irreparable double-strand gaps may be behind lethality of any DNA damaging treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1096
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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