Protein roadblocks and helix discontinuities are barriers to the initiation of mismatch repair.
The hemimethylated d(GATC) sequence that directs Escherichia coli mismatch repair can reside on either side of a mismatch at a separation distance of 1,000 bp or more. Initiation of repair involves the mismatch-, MutS-, and MutL-dependent activation of MutH endonuclease, which incises the unmethylated strand at the d(GATC) sequence, with the ensuing strand break serving as the loading site for the appropriate 3'-to-5' or 5'-to-3' excision system. However, the mechanism responsible for the coordinated recognition of the mismatch and a hemimodified d(GATC) site is uncertain. We show that a protein roadblock (EcoRI(E111Q), a hydrolytically defective form of EcoRI endonuclease) placed on the helix between the two DNA sites inhibits MutH activation by 70-80% and that events that escape inhibition are attributable, at least in part, to diffusion of EcoRI(E111Q) away from its recognition site. We also demonstrate that a double-strand break located within the shorter path linking the mismatch and a d(GATC) site in a circular heteroduplex abolishes MutH activation, whereas a double-strand break within the longer path is without effect. These findings support the idea that initiation of mismatch repair involves signaling along the helix contour.
Pluciennik, A; Modrich, P
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