Molecular interactions involving Escherichia coli nucleoside diphosphate kinase

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Nucleoside diphosphate kinase plays a distinctive metabolic role as the enzyme poised between the last reaction of deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) biosynthesis and the DNA polymerization apparatus. In bacteriophage T4 infection, NDP kinase is one of very few enzymes of host cell origin to participate in either dNTP synthesis or DNA replication. Yet NDP kinase forms specific contacts with phage-coded proteins of dNTP and DNA synthesis. This article summarizes work from our laboratory that identifies and characterizes these interactions. Despite these specific interactions, the enzyme appears to be dispensable, both for T4 replication and for growth of the host, Escherichia coli, because site-specific disruption of ndk, the structural gene for NDP kinase, does not interfere with growth of the host cell and only partly inhibits phage replication. However, ndk disruption unbalances the dNTP pools and stimulates mutagenesis. We discuss our attempts to understand the basis for this enhanced mutagenesis.

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