Lethal modifications of DNA via the transmutation of32P and33P incorporated in the genome of the S13 bacteriophage
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When circular single-stranded DNA of phage S13 is labelled with32P or33P, the transmutations very efficiently bring about a loss of phage infectiousness (efficiency = 1 for32P and 0.73 for33P). For both radionuclides, the lethal efficiencies as well as the lethal events are different. In the case of32P, the lethal event is the loss of the circular integrity of the DNA molecule, occurring as a consequence of a systematic single strand-break caused by each32P decay (100%). Conversely, in the case of33P, the lethal events are either a single strand-break (40%) or a local stereochemical modification (33%). The same primary event, the substitution at each33P decay of a phosphate by a sulfate molecule, leads to one of these lethal events in relation to the decay site. Moreover, neither the phage adsorption nor its genome injection into bacteria depends on the physical state of the genome, and thus lethality is revealed at only the genetic level.
KeywordsPhosphate Sulfate Physical State Primary Event Lethal Event
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