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Identification of a DNA Nonhomologous End-Joining Complex in Bacteria

Science  06 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5587, pp. 1686-1689
DOI: 10.1126/science.1074584

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Abstract

In eukaryotic cells, double-strand breaks (DSBs) in DNA are generally repaired by the pathway of homologous recombination or by DNA nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ). Both pathways have been highly conserved throughout eukaryotic evolution, but no equivalent NHEJ system has been identified in prokaryotes. The NHEJ pathway requires a DNA end-binding component called Ku. We have identified bacterial Ku homologs and show that these proteins retain the biochemical characteristics of the eukaryotic Ku heterodimer. Furthermore, we show that bacterial Ku specifically recruits DNA ligase to DNA ends and stimulates DNA ligation. Loss of these proteins leads to hypersensitivity to ionizing radiation in Bacillus subtilis. These data provide evidence that many bacteria possess a DNA DSB repair apparatus that shares many features with the NHEJ system of eukarya and suggest that this DNA repair pathway arose before the prokaryotic and eukaryotic lineages diverged.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: AJD42{at}cam.ac.uk.

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