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Summary

Changes in gene expression after treatment of Escherichia coli cultures with mitomycin C were assessed using gene array technology. Unexpectedly, a large number of genes (nearly 30% of all genes) displayed significant changes in their expression level. Analysis and classification of expression profiles of the corresponding genes allowed us to assign this large number of genes into one or two dozen small clusters of genes with similar expression profiles. This assignment allowed us to describe systematically the changes in the level of gene expression in response to DNA damage. Among the damage-induced genes, more than 100 are novel. From those genes involved in DNA metabolism that have not previously been shown to be induced by DNA damage, the mutS gene involved in mismatch repair is especially noteworthy. In addition to the SOS response, we observed the induction of other stress response pathways, such as those of oxidative stress and osmotic protection. Among the genes that are downregulated in response to DNA damage are numerous protein biosynthesis genes. Analysis of the gene expression data highlighted the essential involvement of σs-regulated genes and the general stress response network in the response to DNA damage.