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Identification of a deoxyribonuclease implicated in genetic transformation of Diplococcus pneumoniae.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


A mutation of Diplococcus pneumoniae, end-1, reduces the major deoxyribonuclease activity of the cell, an endonuclease, to 10% of its normal value without impairing transformation. Further mutations, called noz, abolish the residual endonuclease activity and block transformation. The residual endonuclease is similar to the wild-type enzyme in size, charge, divalent cation dependence, inhibition by ribonucleic acid, and formation of oligonucleotide products. However, the mutant endonuclease is more temperature sensitive, which suggests that the end-1 mutation occurred in a structural gene for the enzyme. Genetic analysis showed that the noz mutations occur at the same genetic locus. A number of new end mutants were analyzed. Those that retained more than 1.4% of the normal endonuclease activity were essentially normal in transformation; those with less than 1% were defective. The transformation-defective end mutants appear to be blocked in the entry of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) since they carry out the prior step of binding DNA to the outside of the cell. The major endonuclease of the cell may act as a DNA translocase by attacking and degrading one strand of DNA, thereby facilitating entry of the complementary strand into the cell.

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