M.E. Lobashev has brilliantly postulated in 1947 that error-prone repair contribute to mutations in cells. This was shown to be true once the mechanisms of UV mutagenesis in Escherichia coli were deciphered. Induced mutations are generated during error-prone SOS DNA repair with the involvement of inaccurate DNA polymerases belonging to the Y family. Currently, several distinct mutator enzymes participating in spontaneous and induced mutagenesis have been identified. Upon induction of these proteins, mutation rates increase by several orders of magnitude. These proteins regulate the mutation rates in evolution and in ontogeny during immune response. In jawed vertebrates, somatic hypermutagenesis occurs in the variable regions of immunoglobulin genes, leading to affinity maturation of antibodies. The process is initiated by cytidine deamination in DNA to uracil by AID (Activation-Induced Deaminase). Further repair of uracil-containing DNA through proteins that include the Y family DNA polymerases causes mutations, induce gene conversion, and class switch recombination. In jawless vertebrates, the variable lymphocyte receptors (VLR) serve as the primary molecules for adaptive immunity. Generation of mature VLRs most likely depends on agnathan AID-like deaminases. AID and its orthologs in lamprey (PmCDA1 and PMCDA2) belong to the AID/APOBEC family of RNA/DNA editing cytidine deaminases. This family includes enzymes with different functions: APOBEC1 edits RNA, APOBEC3 restricts retroviruses. The functions of APOBEC2 and APOBEC4 have not been yet determined. Here, we report a new member of the AID/APOBEC family, APOBEC5, in the bacterium Xanthomonas oryzae. The widespread presence of RNA/DNA editing deaminases suggests that they are an ancient means of generating genetic diversity.
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