UV-induced mutation in bacteriophage T4.


Two late gene am mutants of bacteriophage T4 that can be induced to revert by UV were crossed to a temperature-sensitive ligase mutant. In the double mutants, UV-induced reversion was eliminated at a semirestrictive temperature. When the single am mutants were irradiated and then allowed a single passage in a permissive host, the UV-induced reversion frequency was increased by 15- to 25-fold. This increased mutagenesis was also abolished by the presence of the ligase allele. When the UV-irradiated single am mutants multiply infected a permissive host, allowing multiplicity reactivation to occur, the induced reversion frequency was reduced similarly to the reduction in lethality. The mutagenesis that remained was again abolished by the presence of the ligase allele. It is concluded that UV induces mutations in phage T4 through the action of a pathway that includes polynucleotide ligase. The increase in mutation frequency after growth in a permissive host implies that mutagenesis can occur at more than one stage of the infection rather than only in an early stage before expression of the mutant genome. The process of multiplicity reactivation appears to be error-free since it overcomes lethal lesions without inducing new mutations.

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