DNA repair in Mycobacterium tuberculosis revisited


  • Editor: Josep Casadesus

Correspondence: Brigitte Gicquel, Unité de Génétique mycobactérienne, Institut Pasteur, 25-28 rue du docteur Roux, Paris 75015, France. Tel.: +33 145 688 828; fax: +33 145 688 843; e-mail: bgicquel@pasteur.fr


Our understanding of Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA repair mechanisms is still poor compared with that of other bacterial organisms. However, the publication of the first complete M. tuberculosis genome sequence 10 years ago boosted the study of DNA repair systems in this organism. A first step in the elucidation of M. tuberculosis DNA repair mechanisms was taken by Mizrahi and Andersen, who identified homologs of genes involved in the reversal or repair of DNA damage in Escherichia coli and related organisms. Genes required for nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair, recombination, and SOS repair and mutagenesis were identified. Notably, no homologs of genes involved in mismatch repair were identified. Novel characteristics of the M. tuberculosis DNA repair machinery have been found over the last decade, such as nonhomologous end joining, the presence of Mpg, ERCC3 and Hlr – proteins previously presumed to be produced exclusively in mammalian cells – and the recently discovered bifunctional dCTP deaminase:dUTPase. The study of these systems is important to develop therapeutic agents that can counteract M. tuberculosis evolutionary changes and to prevent adaptive events resulting in antibiotic resistance. This review summarizes our current understanding of the M. tuberculosis DNA repair system.