Biochemical and biological function of Escherichia coli RecA protein: behavior of mutant RecA proteins

S. C. Kowalczykowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The recA protein of E coli participates in several diverse biological processes and promotes a variety of complex in vitro reactions. A careful comparison of the phenotypic behavior of E coli recA mutations to the biochemical properties of the corresponding mutant proteins reveals a close parallel both between recombination phenotype and DNA strand exchange and renaturation activities, and between inducible phenomena and repressor cleavage activity. The biochemical alterations manifest by the mutant recA proteins are reflected in the strength of their interaction with ssDNA. The defective mutant recA proteins fail to properly assume the high-affinity DNA-binding state that is characteristic of the wild-type protein and, consequently, form less stable complexes with DNA. The mutant proteins displaying an 'enhanced' activity bind ssDNA with approximately the same affinity as the wild-type protein but, due to altered protein-protein interactions, they associate more rapidly with ssDNA. These changes proportionately affect the ability of recA protein to compete with SSB protein, to interact with dsDNA, and, perhaps, to bind repressor proteins. In turn, the DNA strand exchange, DNA renaturation, and repressor cleavage activities mirror these modifications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-304
Number of pages16
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA strand exchange
  • genetic recombination
  • recA protein
  • repressor cleavage
  • SSB protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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