Cells cope with radiation damage through several mechanisms: (1) increased DNA repair activity, (2) scavenging and inactivation of radiation-induced radical molecules, and (3) entry into a G0-like quiescent state. We have investigated a chromosomal rearrangement to elucidate further the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying these phenomena. A mutant of Escherichia coli JM83 (φ80dlacZΔM15) was isolated that demonstrated significantly increased resistance to both ionizing and ultraviolet radiation. Surviving fractions of mutant and wild-type cells were measured following exposure to standardized doses of radiation. Increased radioresistance was directly related to a chromosomal alteration near the bacteriophage φ80 attachment site (attB), as initially detected by the${\rm LacZ}^{-}$ phenotype of the isolate. Southern hybridization of chromosomal DNA from the mutant and wild-type E. coli JM83 strains indicated that a deletion had occurred. We propose that the deletion near the attB locus produces the radioresistant phenotype of the E. coli JM83${\rm LacZ}^{-}$ mutant, perhaps through the alteration or inactivation of a gene or its controlling element(s).

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