Previous mutational analysis of the L1 region of the RecA protein suggested that Gly-157 and Glu-158 are 'hot-spots' for the occurrence of constitutive LexA co-protease mutants (coprt[c]). In the present study, we clearly establish that position 157 is a hot-spot for the occurrence of such mutants, as 12 of 14 and 10 of 14 substitutions result in this phenotype for UmuD and LexA cleavage respectively. The frequency of such mutations at position 158 is somewhat lower, 8 of 13 and 5 of 13 for UmuD and LexA respectively. Comparison of the UmuD vs. LexA co-protease activity for all single mutants with substitutions at positions 154, 155, 156, 157 and 158 (47 in total) reveals that, although there is good agreement among most mutants regarding their ability to cleave both LexA and UmuD, there are two in particular (Glu-154-->Asp and Glu-154-->Gln) that show a clear preference for cleavage of UmuD. We also show that three second-site mutations that completely suppress coprt(c) activity toward LexA have little or no effect on the coprt(c) activity of the primary mutant toward UmuD. In addition, we observe a high frequency of second-site suppressor mutations, suggesting a functional interaction among side-chains in this region. Together, these results support the idea that the L1 region of RecA makes up part of the co-protease substrate-binding site.
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