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Although most deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) lesions are accurately repaired before replication, replication across unrepaired lesions is the main source of point mutations. The lesion tolerance processes, which allow damaged DNA to be replicated, entail two branches, error-prone translesion synthesis (TLS) and error-free damage avoidance (DA). While TLS pathways are reasonably well established, DA pathways are poorly understood. The fate of a replication-blocking lesion is generally explored by means of plasmid-based assays. Although such assays represent efficient tools to analyse TLS, we show here that plasmid-borne lesions are inappropriate models to study DA pathways due to extensive replication fork uncoupling. This observation prompted us to develop a method to graft, site-specifically, a single lesion in the genome of a living cell. With this novel assay, we show that in Escherichia coli DA events massively outweigh TLS events and that in contrast to plasmid, chromosome-borne lesions partially require RecA for tolerance.


Vincent Pagès, Gerard Mazón, Karel Naiman, Gaëlle Philippin, Robert P Fuchs. Monitoring bypass of single replication-blocking lesions by damage avoidance in the Escherichia coli chromosome. Nucleic acids research. 2012 Oct;40(18):9036-43

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PMID: 22798494

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