, Volume 210, Issue 2, pp 369-372

Mismatch repair during pneumococcal transformation of small deletions produced by site-directed mutagenesis

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The genetic behaviour of short non-homologous regions has been studied during transformation of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Amethopterin-resistant mutants belonging to the amiA locus were used for these investigations. Five mutants deleted for 1–5 bp were obtained by oligonucleotide-direcrted mutagenesis. Their efficiency of transformation was measured using recipient strains either able to excise and repair mismatched bases (Hex+) or Hex- derivatives. Deletions or insertions of 1 and 2 bp are fully recognized by the Hex system, and are efficiently repaired whereas 3-bp deletions or insertions are only partially excised and repaired. The efficiency of repair is inversely related to the size of the non-homology. Markers with 5-bp deletions or insertions are poorly repaired and thus transform at very high frequency: similar results are obtained in reciprocal crosses. It is proposed that 1-or 2-bp deletions or insertions are included in the heteroduplex structure as transition mutations. The Hex system would detect only small deviations from the normal DNA structure.