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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Partially deficient methylation of cytosine in DNA at CCATGG sites stimulates genetic recombination of bacteriophage lambda.

Lambda bacteriophages grown on arl mutants of Escherichia coli ("Arl-" phages) display intermediate levels of cytosine methylation: less 5-methylcytosine (m5C) than phages grown on wild-type bacteria ("Arl+" phages) but more than phages grown on dcm mutants, and thus lacking the methylated sequences (Cm5CATGG) characteristic of E. coli K-12 bacteria ("Dcm-" phages). "Arl-" phages are one twelfth as resistant to Eco RII restriction (recognition site CCATGG) as "Arl+" phages, but 40-fold more resistant than "Dcm-" phages. Chromatographic analyses show the 5-methylcytosine content of "Arl-" DNA to be one third that of "Arl+" DNA. Altered cytosine methylation frequency correlates with two previously described properties of "Arl-" phages, increased genetic recombination and unusual sensitivity of phage DNA to endonuclease S1, which are absent in phages grown on dcm or dcm arl bacteria. Methylated/unmethylated heteroduplex DNA prepared in vitro (one strand from Eco RII-modified phages/one from "Dcm-" phages) is highly recombinogenic but not S1-sensitive. We hypothesize that hemimethylated CCATGG sites in "Arl-" DNA are necessary and sufficient for enhanced recombination, and necessary but not sufficient for S1 sensitivity.[1]


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