DNA mismatch repair (MMR) is an evolutionarily-conserved process responsible for the repair of replication errors. In Escherichia coli, MMR is initiated by MutS and MutL, which activate MutH to incise transiently-hemimethylated GATC sites. MMR efficiency depends on the distribution of these GATC sites. To understand which molecular events determine repair efficiency, we quantitatively studied the effect of strand incision on unwinding and excision activity. The distance between mismatch and GATC site did not influence the strand incision rate, and an increase in the number of sites enhanced incision only to a minor extent. Two GATC sites were incised by the same activated MMR complex in a processive manner, with MutS, the closed form of MutL and MutH displaying different roles. Unwinding and strand excision were more efficient on a substrate with two nicks flanking the mismatch, as compared to substrates containing a single nick or two nicks on the same side of the mismatch. Introduction of multiple nicks by the human MutL alpha endonuclease also contributed to increased repair efficiency. Our data support a general model of prokaryotic and eukaryotic MMR in which, despite mechanistic differences, mismatch-activated complexes facilitate efficient repair by creating multiple daughter strand nicks.
- EMC MGC-01-12-03
- EMC MM-03-32-04