The mutation of Pro67 to Trp (P67W) in the Escherichia coli RecA protein results in reduced recombination and constitutive coprotease phenotypes. We examined the biochemical properties of this mutant in an effort to understand these altered behaviors. We find that RecA P67W protein can access single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding sites within regions of secondary structure more effectively than wild-type protein, and binding to duplex DNA is both faster and more extensive as well. This mutant is also more effective than wild-type RecA protein in displacing SSB protein from ssDNA. An enhancement in SSB protein displacement has been shown previously for RecA441, RecA730, and RecA803 proteins, and similarly, this improved ability to displace SSB protein for RecA P67W protein correlates with an increased rate of association with ssDNA. As for the aforementioned mutant RecA proteins, we expect that this enhanced activity will allow RecA P67W protein to bind ssDNA naturally occurring in undamaged cells and to constitutively induce the SOS response. The DNA strand exchange activity of RecA P67W protein is also altered. Although the rate of duplex DNA uptake into joint molecules is increased compared to that of wild-type RecA protein, the resolution to the nicked circular dsDNA product is reduced. We suggest that either a limited amount of DNA strand reinvasion or a defect in DNA heteroduplex extension is responsible for the impaired recombination ability of this mutant protein.
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