Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Microbiology and Molecular Genetics


The DNA glycosylases function in the first step of the base excision repair (BER) process, that is responsible for removing base lesions resulting from oxidation, alkylation or deamination. The DNA glycosylases that recognize oxidative base damage fall into two general families: the Fpg/Nei family and the Nth superfamily. Based on protein sequence alignments, we identified four putative Fpg/Nei family members as well as a putative Nth protein in Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv, the causative agent of tuberculosis. While Fpg proteins are widely distributed among the bacteria and plants, Nei homologs are sparsely distributed across phyla, and are only found in γ-proteobacteria, actinobacteria and metazoans. Interestingly, M. tuberculosis H37Rv harbors two proteins (Rv2464c and Rv3297) from the Nei clade and two (Rv2924c and Rv0944) from the Fpg clade. All four Fpg/Nei proteins were successfully overexpressed by using a novel bicistronic vector, which theoretically prevented stable mRNA secondary structure(s) surrounding the translation initiation region (TIR) thereby improving translation efficiency. Additionally, MtuNth (Rv3674c) was also overexpressed in soluble form. The substrate specificities of the purified enzymes were characterized in vitro with oligonucleotide substrates containing single lesions. Some were further characterized by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis of products released from γ-irradiated DNA. MtuFpg1 (Rv2924c) has a substrate specificity similar to that of EcoFpg and recognizes oxidized purines. Both EcoFpg and MtuFpg1 are more efficient at removing spiroiminodihydantoin (Sp) than 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG); however, MtuFpg1 has a substantially increased opposite base discrimination compared to EcoFpg. The Rv0944 gene encodes MtuFpg2, which contains only the C-terminal domain of an Fpg protein and has no detectable DNA binding activity or DNA glycosylase/lyase activity and thus appears to be a pseudogene. MtuNei1 (Rv2464c) recognizes oxidized pyrimidines not only on doublestranded DNA but also on single-stranded DNA. It also exhibits uracil DNA glycosylase activity as well as weak activity on FapyA and FapyG. MtuNth recognizes a variety of oxidized bases, such as urea, 5,6-dihydrouracil (DHU), 5-hydroxyuracil (5- OHU), 5-hydroxycytosine (5-OHC) and methylhydantoin (MeHyd) as well as FapyA, FapyG and 8-oxoadenine (8-oxoA). Both MtuNei1 and MtuNth excise thymine glycol (Tg); however, MtuNei1 strongly prefers the (5R) isomers of Tg, whereas MtuNth recognizes only the (5S) isomers. The other Nei paralog, MtuNei2 (Rv3297), did not demonstrate activity in vitro as a recombinant protein, but when expressed in Escherichia coli, the protein decreased the spontaneous mutation frequency of both the fpg mutY nei triple and nei nth double mutants, suggesting that MtuNei2 is functionally active in vivo recognizing both guanine and cytosine oxidation products. The kinetic parameters of the MtuFpg1, MtuNei1 and MtuNth proteins on selected substrates were also determined and compared to those of their E. coli homologs. Since pathogenic bacteria are often exposed to an oxidative environment, such as in macrophages, our data, together with previous observations, support the idea that the BER pathway is of importance in protecting M. tuberculosis against oxidative stress, as has been observed with other pathogens .