Six mutants of Escherichia coli K12 that are sensitive to visible light have been isolated. Five of them, including an amber mutant, are defective in a gene that maps near 11 minutes on the linkage map of the chromosome, and this gene has been designated visA. The sixth mutant, which was isolated from bacteria that carried the visA+/visA+ diploid allele, is defective in a gene that maps near 63 minutes on the linkage map, which has been designated visB. These mutant strains of bacteria are killed by illumination with visible light. The effective wavelength of the light is around 460 nm. The nucleotide sequence of the visA gene was determined. As a result of a search for homologous products, we found that visA may be identical to hemH, the structural gene for ferrochelatase which catalyzes a final step in the biosynthesis of heme. A possible mechanism for the killing of the visA mutant bacteria is discussed.
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