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Bacillus subtilis stress-associated mutagenesis and developmental DNA repair.

SUMMARY The metabolic conditions that prevail during bacterial growth have evolved with the faithful operation of repair systems that recognize and eliminate DNA lesions caused by intracellular and exogenous agents. This idea is supported by the low rate of spontaneous mutations (10-9 ) that occur in replicating cells, maintaining genome integrity. In contrast, when growth and/or replication cease, bacteria frequently process DNA lesions in an error-prone manner. DNA repairs provide cells with the tools needed for maintaining homeostasis during stressful conditions and depend on the developmental context in which repair events occur. Thus, different physiological scenarios can be anticipated. In nutritionally stressed bacteria, different components of the base excision repair pathway may process damaged DNA in an error-prone approach, promoting genetic variability. Interestingly, suppressing the mismatch repair machinery and activating specific DNA glycosylases promote stationary-phase mutations. Current evidence also suggests that in resting cells, coupling repair processes to actively transcribed genes may promote multiple genetic transactions that are advantageous for stressed cells. DNA repair during sporulation is of interest as a model to understand how transcriptional processes influence the formation of mutations in conditions where replication is halted. Current reports indicate that transcriptional coupling repair-dependent and -independent processes operate in differentiating cells to process spontaneous and induced DNA damage and that error-prone synthesis of DNA is involved in these events. These and other noncanonical ways of DNA repair that contribute to mutagenesis, survival, and evolution are reviewed in this manuscript.

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