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Generation of a strong mutator phenotype in yeast by imbalanced base excision repair

The National Academy of Sciences
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  • Biological Sciences
  • Biology


Increased spontaneous mutation is associated with increased cancer risk. Here, by using a model system, we show that spontaneous mutation can be increased several hundred-fold by a simple imbalance between the first two enzymes involved in DNA base excision repair. The Saccharomyces cerevisiae MAG1 3-methyladenine (3MeA) DNA glycosylase, when expressed at high levels relative to the apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease, increases spontaneous mutation by up to ≈600-fold in S. cerevisiae and ≈200-fold in Escherichia coli. Genetic evidence suggests that, in yeast, the increased spontaneous mutation requires the generation of abasic sites and the processing of these sites by the REV1/REV3/REV7 lesion bypass pathway. Comparison of the mutator activity produced by Mag1, which has a broad substrate range, with that produced by the E. coli Tag 3MeA DNA glycosylase, which has a narrow substrate range, indicates that the removal of endogenously produced 3MeA is unlikely to be responsible for the mutator effect of Mag1. Finally, the human AAG 3-MeA DNA glycosylase also can produce a small (≈2-fold) but statistically significant increase in spontaneous mutation, a result which could have important implications for carcinogenesis.

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