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Coping With Reactive Oxygen Species To Ensure Genome Stability In Escherichia Coli

Belén Mendoza-Chamizo, Anders Løbner-Olesen, Godefroid Charbon

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The facultative aerobic bacterium Escherichia coli adjusts its cell cycle to environmental conditions. Because of its lifestyle, the bacterium has to balance the use of oxygen with the potential lethal effects of its poisonous derivatives. Oxidative damages perpetrated by molecules such as hydrogen peroxide and superoxide anions directly incapacitate metabolic activities relying on enzymes co-factored with iron and flavins. Consequently, growth is inhibited when the bacterium faces substantial reactive oxygen insults coming from environmental or cellular sources. Although hydrogen peroxide and superoxide anions do not oxidize DNA directly, these molecules feed directly or indirectly the generation of the highly reactive hydroxyl radical that damages the bacterial chromosome. Oxidized bases are normally excised and the single strand gap repaired by the base excision repair pathway (BER). This process is especially problematic in E. coli because replication forks do not sense the presence of damages or a stalled fork ahead of them. As consequence, single-strand breaks are turned into double-strand breaks (DSB) through replication. Since E. coli tolerates the presence of DSBs poorly, BER can become toxic during oxidative stress. Here we review the repair strategies that E. coli adopts to preserve genome integrity during oxidative stress and their relation to cell cycle control of DNA replication.