Articles written in Journal of Genetics
Volume 79 Issue 2 August 2000 pp 55-60
It is shown that partial phenotypic suppression of two ochre mutations (argE3 and lacZU118) and an amber mutation (in argE) by sublethal concentrations of streptomycin in an rpsL+ (streptomycin-sensitive) derivative of the Escherichia coli strain AB1157 greatly enhances their adaptive mutability under selection. Streptomycin also increases adaptive mutability brought about by the ppm mutation described earlier. Inactivation of recA affects neither phenotypic suppression by streptomycin nor replication-associated mutagenesis but abolishes adaptive mutagenesis. These results indicate a causal relationship between allele leakiness and adaptive mutability.
Volume 88 Issue 3 December 2009 pp 379-391 Review Article
Mutators (also called hypermutators) are mutants which show higher than normal spontaneous mutation frequencies, ranging from 10–20 fold to 100–1000 fold higher, or sometimes even more, than wild-type cells. Being a mutator is advantageous to the organism when adapting to environmental changes or stressful situations, such as moving from one habitat to another, one host to another, exposure to antibiotics etc. However, this advantage is only a short-term benefit. In the long run, hypermutability leads to a fitness disadvantage due to accumulation of deleterious mutations or antagonistic pleiotropy or both. Contrary to intuitive expectations, hypermutability is commonly encountered in natural bacterial populations, especially among clinical isolates. It is believed to be involved in the emergence of antibiotic resistance and a hindrance to the treatment of infectious diseases. Here, I review the state of knowledge on the common mechanisms of hypermutability such as errors/defects in DNA replication, proof reading, mismatch repair, oxidative DNA damage, mistranslation etc., as well as phenomena associated with these processes, using Escherichia coli as a paradigmatic organism.
Volume 90 Issue 2 August 2011 pp 383-391 Review Article
Hypermutability is a phenotype characterized by a moderate to high elevation of spontaneous mutation rates and could result from DNA replication errors, defects in error correction mechanisms and many other causes. The elevated mutation rates are helpful to organisms to adapt to sudden and unforeseen threats to survival. At the same time hypermutability also leads to the generation of many deleterious mutations which offset its adaptive value and therefore disadvantageous. Nevertheless, it is very common in nature, especially among clinical isolates of pathogens. Hypermutability is inherited by indirect (second order) selection along with the beneficial mutations generated. At large population sizes and high mutation rates many cells in the population could concurrently acquire beneficial mutations of varying adaptive (fitness) values. These lineages compete with the ancestral cells and also among themselves for fixation. The one with the ‘fittest’ mutation gets fixed ultimately while the others are lost. This has been called ‘clonal interference’ which puts a speed limit on adaptation. The original clonal interference hypothesis has been modified recently. Nonheritable (transient) hypermtability conferring significant adaptive benefits also occur during stress response although its molecular basis remains controversial. The adaptive benefits of heritable hypermutability are discussed with emphasis on host–pathogen interactions.