Research Articles

Reverse transcriptase in a clinical strain of Escherichia coli: production of branched RNA-linked msDNA

Science  24 Feb 1989:
Vol. 243, Issue 4894, pp. 1033-1038
DOI: 10.1126/science.2466332


Branched RNA-linked multicopy single-stranded DNA (msDNA) originally detected in myxobacteria has now been found in a clinical isolate of Escherichia coli. Although lacking homology in the primary structure, the E. coli msDNA is similar in secondary structure to the myxobacterial msDNA's, including the 2',5'-phosphodiester linkage between RNA and DNA. A chromosomal DNA fragment responsible for the production of msDNA was cloned in an E. coli K12 strain; its DNA sequence revealed an open reading frame (ORF) of 586 amino acid residues. The ORF shows sequence similarity with retroviral reverse transcriptases and ribonuclease H. Disruption of the ORF blocked msDNA production, indicating that this gene is essential for msDNA synthesis.