Analysis of Deinococcus radiodurans's transcriptional response to ionizing radiation and desiccation reveals novel proteins that contribute to extreme radioresistance

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During the first hour after a sublethal dose of ionizing radiation, 72 genes were upregulated threefold or higher in D. radiodurans R1. Thirty-three of these loci were also among a set of 73 genes expressed in R1 cultures recovering from desiccation. The five transcripts most highly induced in response to each stress are the same and encode proteins of unknown function. The genes (ddrA, ddrB, ddrC, ddrD, and pprA) corresponding to these transcripts were deleted, both alone and in all possible two-way combinations. Characterization of the mutant strains defines three epistasis groups that reflect different cellular responses to ionizing radiation-induced damage. The ddrA and ddrB gene products have complementary activities and inactivating both loci generates a strain that is more sensitive to ionizing radiation than strains in which either single gene has been deleted. These proteins appear to mediate efficient RecA-independent processes connected to ionizing radiation resistance. The pprA gene product is not necessary for homologous recombination during natural transformation, but nevertheless may participate in a RecA-dependent process during recovery from radiation damage. These characterizations clearly demonstrate that novel mechanisms significantly contribute to the ionizing radiation resistance in D. radiodurans.

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