DNA incisions stimulate genetic instability of triplet repeat sequences related to human hereditary neurological diseases

Micheal Lee Hebert, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The molecular mechanisms responsible for the expansion and deletion of trinucleotide repeat sequences (TRS) are the focus of our studies. Several hereditary neurological diseases including Huntington's disease, myotonic dystrophy, and fragile X syndrome are associated with the instability of TRS. Using the well defined and controllable model system of Escherichia coli, the influences of three types of DNA incisions on genetic instability of CTG•CAG repeats were studied: DNA double-strand breaks (DSB), single-strand nicks, and single-strand gaps. The DNA incisions were generated in pUC19 derivatives by in vitro cleavage with restriction endonucleases. The cleaved DNA was then transformed into E. coli parental and mutant strains. Double-strand breaks induced deletions throughout the TRS region in an orientation dependent manner relative to the origin of replication. The extent of instability was enhanced by the repeat length and sequence (CTG•CAG vs. CGG•CCG). Mutations in recA and recBC increased deletions, mutations in recF stabilized the TRS, whereas mutations in ruvA had no effect. DSB were repaired by intramolecular recombination, versus an intermolecular gene conversion or crossover mechanism. 30 nt gaps formed a distinct 30 nt deletion product, whereas single strand nicks and gaps of 15 nts did not induce expansions or deletions. Formation of this deletion product required the CTG•CAG repeats to be present in the single-stranded region and was stimulated by E. coli DNA ligase, but was not dependent upon the RecFOR pathway. Models are presented to explain the DSB induced instabilities and formation of the 30 nucleotide deletion product. In addition to the in vitro creation of DSBs, several attempts to generate this incision in vivo with the use of EcoR I restriction modification systems were conducted.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Hebert, Micheal Lee, "DNA incisions stimulate genetic instability of triplet repeat sequences related to human hereditary neurological diseases" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3168437.