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Stabilization of the genome of the mismatch repair deficient Mycobacterium tuberculosis by context-dependent codon choice


Wanner, R M; Güthlein, C; Springer, B; Böttger, E C; Ackermann, M (2008). Stabilization of the genome of the mismatch repair deficient Mycobacterium tuberculosis by context-dependent codon choice. BMC Genomics, 9:249.

Abstract

Background: The rate at which a stretch of DNA mutates is determined by the cellular systems for DNA replication and repair, and by the nucleotide sequence of the stretch itself. One sequence feature with a particularly strong influence on the mutation rate are nucleotide repeats. Some microbial pathogens use nucleotide repeats in their genome to stochastically vary phenotypic traits and thereby evade host defense. However, such unstable sequences also come at a cost, as mutations are often deleterious. Here, we analyzed how these opposing forces shaped genome stability in the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. M. tuberculosis lacks a mismatch repair system, and this renders nucleotide repeats particularly unstable.
Results: We found that proteins of M. tuberculosis are encoded by using codons in a context-dependent manner that prevents the emergence of nucleotide repeats. This context-dependent codon choice leads to a strong decrease in the estimated frame-shift mutation rate and thus to an increase in genome stability.
Conclusion: These results indicate that a context-specific codon choice can partially compensate for the lack of a mismatch repair system, and helps to maintain genome integrity in this pathogen.

Abstract

Background: The rate at which a stretch of DNA mutates is determined by the cellular systems for DNA replication and repair, and by the nucleotide sequence of the stretch itself. One sequence feature with a particularly strong influence on the mutation rate are nucleotide repeats. Some microbial pathogens use nucleotide repeats in their genome to stochastically vary phenotypic traits and thereby evade host defense. However, such unstable sequences also come at a cost, as mutations are often deleterious. Here, we analyzed how these opposing forces shaped genome stability in the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. M. tuberculosis lacks a mismatch repair system, and this renders nucleotide repeats particularly unstable.
Results: We found that proteins of M. tuberculosis are encoded by using codons in a context-dependent manner that prevents the emergence of nucleotide repeats. This context-dependent codon choice leads to a strong decrease in the estimated frame-shift mutation rate and thus to an increase in genome stability.
Conclusion: These results indicate that a context-specific codon choice can partially compensate for the lack of a mismatch repair system, and helps to maintain genome integrity in this pathogen.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Medical Microbiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:May 2008
Deposited On:24 Oct 2008 07:28
Last Modified:03 Aug 2017 14:52
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1471-2164
Additional Information:Free full text article
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-9-249
PubMed ID:18507851

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