Implementation of a loss-of-function system to determine growth and stress-associated mutagenesis in Bacillus subtilis

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A forward mutagenesis system based on the acquisition of mutations that inactivate the thymidylate synthase gene (TMS) and confer a trimethoprim resistant (Tmpr) phenotype was developed and utilized to study transcription-mediated mutagenesis (TMM). In addition to thyA, Bacillus subtilis possesses thyB, whose expression occurs under conditions of cell stress; therefore, we generated a thyB- thyA+ mutant strain. Tmpr colonies of this strain were produced with a spontaneous mutation frequency of ∼1.4 × 10-9. Genetic disruption of the canonical mismatch (MMR) and guanine oxidized (GO) repair pathways increased the Tmpr frequency of mutation by ∼2-3 orders of magnitude. A wide spectrum of base substitutions as well as insertion and deletions in the ORF of thyA were found to confer a Tmpr phenotype. Stationary-phase-associated mutagenesis (SPM) assays revealed that colonies with a Tmpr phenotype, accumulated over a period of ten days with a frequency of ∼ 60 ×10-7. The Tmpr system was further modified to study TMM by constructing a ΔthyA ΔthyB strain carrying an IPTG-inducible Pspac-thyA cassette. In conditions of transcriptional induction of thyA, the generation of Tmpr colonies increased ∼3-fold compared to conditions of transcriptional repression. Further, the Mfd and GreA factors were necessary for the generation of Tmpr colonies in the presence of IPTG in B. subtilis. Because GreA and Mfd facilitate transcription-coupled repair, our results suggest that TMM is a mechanim to produce genetic diversity in highly transcribed regions in growth-limited B. subtilis cells. © 2017 Villegas-Negrete et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the originalauthor and source are credited.



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