• S. K. Mahajan

      Articles written in Journal of Genetics

    • The possible involvement of CHI sequences in adaptive mutagenesis: Evidence from sequence analysis

      S. K. Mahajan N. D. Shirke S. K. Bhattacharjee

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      Recently we proposed that sequences in the immediate neighbourhood of cytosine residues whose sequence context permits their methylation by DNA cytosine methyltransferase (Dcm) experience hypermutagenesis in cells exposed to nonlethal stresses. This hypothesis could explain the peculiar spectrum of the late-arising Lac+ mutants seen in theE. coli strain FC40. Here we present results of computer analysis which show that Dcm substrate sequences are overrepresented in theE. coli genome. Interestingly, certain noncanonical Dcm sequences are more overrepresented than the canonical one. The most overabundant of these, DCM-III (5’ GCTGG3’), forms the 5’ end of the recombinogenic octamer CHI (5’ GCTGGTGG3’). CHI is even more overrepresented than DCM-III. We propose that the overabundance of the DCM and CHI sequences is due to their ability to enhance adaptive fitness of the host by inducing hypermutagenesis in cells exposed to nonlethal, growth-blocking stresses. The CHI context seems to stimulate the adaptive activity of DCM-III by a mechanism which may not directly involve its recombinogenic activity.

    • Stationary-state mutagenesis inEscherichia coli: A model

      S. K. Mahajan A. V. S. S. Narayana Rao S. K. Bhattacharjee

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      Stationary-phase mutagenesis in nondividingE. coli cells exposed to a nonlethal stress was, a few years ago, claimed to be a likely case of a Lamarckian mechanism capable of producing exclusively useful mutations in a directed manner. After a heated debate over the last decade it now appears to involve a Darwinian mechanism that generates a transient state of hypermutagenesis, operating on a large number of sites spread over the entire genome, at least in a proportion of the resting cells. Most of the studies that clarified this position were on the reversion of a frameshift mutation present in alacI-lacZ fusion inE. coli strain FC40. Several groups have extensively examined both the sequence changes associated with these reversions and the underlying genetic requirements. On the basis of our studies on the genomic sequence analysis, we recently proposed a model to explain the specific changes associated with the reversion hotspots. Here we propose a more detailed version of this model that also takes into account the observed genetic requirements of stationary-state mutagenesis. Briefly, G:T/U mismatches produced at methylatable cytosines are preferentially repaired in nondividing cells by the very short patch mismatch repair (VSPMR) mechanism which is itself mutagenic and can produce mutations in very short stretches located in the immediate vicinity of these cytosine methylation sites. This mechanism requires a homologous or homeologous strand invasion step and an error-prone DNA synthesis step and is dependent on RecA, RecBCD and a DNA polymerase. The process is initiated near sequences recognized by Dcm and Vsr enzymes and further stimulated if these sequences are a part of CHI or CHI-like sequences, but a double-strand-break-dependent recombination mediated by the RecBCD pathways proposed by others seems to be nonessential. The strand transfer step is proposed to depend on RecA, RuvA, RuvB and RuvC and is opposed by RecG and MutS. The model also gives interesting insights into the evolution of theE. coli genome.

    • Cloning and characterization of an insecticidal crystal protein gene fromBacillus thuringiensis subspecieskenyae

      Hari S. Misra Nivedita P. Khairnar Manjula Mathur N. Vijayalakshmi Ramesh S. Hire T. K. Dongre S. K. Mahajan

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      A sporulating culture ofBacillus thuringiensis subsp.kenyae strain HD549 is toxic to larvae of lepidopteran insect species such asSpodoptera litura, Helicoverpa armigera andPhthorimaea operculella, and a dipteran insect,Culex fatigans. A 1.9-kb DNA fragment, PCR-amplified from HD549 using cryII-gene-specific primers, was cloned and expressed inE. coli. The recombinant protein produced 92% mortality in first-instar larvae ofSpodoptera litura and 86% inhibition of adult emergence inPhthorimaea operculella, but showed very low toxicity againstHelicoverpa armigera, and lower mortality against third-instar larvae of dipteran insectsCulex fatigans, Anopheles stephensi andAedes aegypti. The sequence of the cloned crystal protein gene showed almost complete homology with a mosquitocidal toxin gene fromBacillus thuringiensis var.kurstaki, with only five mutations scattered in different regions. Amino acid alignment with different insecticidal crystal proteins using the MUTALIN program suggested presence of the conserved block 3 region in the sequence of this protein. A mutation in codon 409 of this gene that changes a highly conserved phenylalanine residue to serine lies in this block.

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