Identification of the lactococcal exonuclease/recombinase and its modulation by the putative Chi sequence

M el Karoui, D Ehrlich, A Gruss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Studies of RecBCD-Chi interactions in Escherichia coli have served as a model to understand recombination events in bacteria. However, the existence of similar interactions has not been demonstrated in bacteria unrelated to E. coli. We developed an in vivo model to examine components of dsDNA break repair in various microorganisms. Here, we identify the major exonuclease in Lactococcus lactis, a Gram-positive organism evolutionarily distant from E. coli, and provide evidence for exonuclease-Chi interactions. Insertional mutants of L. lactis, screened as exonuclease-deficient, affected a single locus and resulted in UV sensitivity and recombination deficiency. The cloned lactococcal genes (called rexAB) restored UV resistance, recombination proficiency, and the capacity to degrade linear DNA, to an E. coli recBCD mutant. In this context, DNA degradation is specifically blocked by the putative lactococcal Chi site (5'-GCGCGTG-3'), but not by the E. coli Chi (5'-GCTGGTGG-3') site. RexAB-mediated recombination was shown to be stimulated approximately 27-fold by lactococcal Chi. Our results reveal that RexAB fulfills the biological roles of RecBCD and indicate that its activity is modulated by a short DNA sequence. We speculate that exonuclease/recombinase enzymes whose activities are modulated by short DNA sequences are widespread among bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-31
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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