Letter | Published:

Preferential DNA secondary structure mutagenesis in the lagging strand of replication in E. coli

Naturevolume 352pages544547 (1991) | Download Citation



WHEN present in single-stranded DNA, palindromic or quasi-palindromic sequences have the potential to form complex secondary structures, including hairpins, which may facilitate inter-strand misalignment of direct repeats and be responsible for diverse types of replication-based mutations, including deletions, additions, frameshifts and duplications1–5. In regions of palindromic symmetry, specific deletion events may involve the formation of a hairpin or other DNA secondary structures which can stabilize the misalignment of direct repeats1,2. One model suggests that these deletions occur during DNA replication by slippage of the template strand and misalignment with the progeny strand6,7. The concurrent DNA replication model, involving an asymmetric dimeric DNA polymerase III complex which replicates the leading and lagging strands8, has significant implications for mutagenesis. The intermittent looping of the lagging strand template, and the fact that the lagging strand template may contain a region of single-stranded DNA the length of an Okazaki fragment, provides an opportunity for DNA secondary-structure formation and misalignment. Here we report our design of a palindromic fragment to create an 'asymmetric palindromic insert' in the chloram-phenicol acetyltransferase gene of plasmid pBR325. The frequency with which the insert was deleted in Escherichia coli depends on the orientation of the gene in the plasmid. Our results suggest that replication-dependent deletion between direct repeats may occur preferentially in the lagging strand.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Glickman, B. W. & Ripley, L. S. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 81, 4046–4050 (1984).

  2. 2

    Ripley, L. S. & Glickman, B. W. in Cellular Responses to DNA Damage, UCLA Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, Vol 10 (ed. N. R. Cozzarelli) 521–540 (Liss, Inc. New York, N.Y. 1983).

  3. 3

    Drake, J. W., Glickman, B. W. & Ripley, L. S. Am. Scient. 71, 621–630 (1983).

  4. 4

    Schaaper, R. M., Danforth, B. N. & Glickman, B. W. J. molec. Biol. 189, 273–284 (1986).

  5. 5

    Ripley, L. S. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 79, 4128–4132 (1982).

  6. 6

    Streisinger, G. et al. Cold Spring Harb. Symp. quant. Biol. 31, 77–84 (1966).

  7. 7

    Albertini, A. M., Hofer, M. Calos, M. P. & Miller, J. H. Cell 29, 319–328 (1982).

  8. 8

    McHenry, C. S. A. Rev. Biochem. 57, 519–550 (1988).

  9. 9

    Scott, J. R. Microbiol. Rev. 48, 1–23 (1984).

  10. 10

    Bohr, V. A., Smith, C. A., Okumoto, D. A. & Hanawalt, P. C. Cell 40, 359–369 (1985).

  11. 11

    Mellon, I. & Hanawalt, P. C. Nature 342, 95–98 (1989).

  12. 12

    Mellon, I., Spivak, G. & Hanawalt, P. C. Cell 51, 241–249 (1988).

  13. 13

    Tsurimoto, T. Melendy, T. & Stillman, B. Nature 346, 534–539 (1990).

  14. 14

    Roberts, J. D., Thomas, D. C. & Kunkel, T. A. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 88, 3465–3469 (1991).

  15. 15

    Weaver, D. T. & DePamphilis, M. L. J. molec. Biol. 180, 961–986 (1984).

  16. 16

    Duckett, D. R., Murchie, A. I. H. & Lilley, D. M. J. EMBO J. 9, 583–590 (1990).

  17. 17

    Duckett, D. R. & Lilley, D. M. J. EMBO J 9, 1659–1664 (1990).

Download references

Author information

Author notes

    • Thuan Q Trinh

    Present address: Department of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics, Merck, Sharp, and Dohme Research Laboratories, PO Box 2000, Rahway, New Jersey, 07065, USA

  1. Richard R Sinden: To whom correspondence should be addressed.


  1. Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Bethesda Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45267-0524, USA

    • Thuan Q Trinh
    •  & Richard R Sinden


  1. Search for Thuan Q Trinh in:

  2. Search for Richard R Sinden in:

About this article

Publication history



Issue Date



Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.