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Volume 1 (2002), Issue 1, Pages 45-52
Research Article

Loss of genetic accuracy in mutants of the thermoacidophile Sulfolobus acidocaldarius

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0006, USA

Received 24 July 2001; Accepted 2 October 2001

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To investigate how hyperthermophilic archaea can propagate their genomes accurately, we isolated Sulfolobus acidocaldarius mutants exhibiting abnormally high rates of spontaneous mutation. Our isolation strategy involved enrichment for mutator lineages via alternating selections, followed by screening for the production of spontaneous, 5-fluoro-orotate-resistant mutants in micro-colonies. Several candidates were evaluated and found to have high frequencies of pyrE and pyrF mutation and reversion. Neither an increased efficiency of plating of mutants on selective medium, nor the creation of a genetically unstable pyrE allele, could be implicated as the cause of these high frequencies. The strains had elevated frequencies of other mutations, and exhibited certain phenotypic differences among themselves. A large increase in sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents was not observed, however. These properties generally resemble those of bacterial mutator mutants and suggest loss of functions specific to genetic accuracy.