skip to main content

Title: Chromatin and other obstacles to base excision repair: potential roles in carcinogenesis
Abstract DNA is comprised of chemically reactive nucleobases that exist under a constant barrage from damaging agents. Failure to repair chemical modifications to these nucleobases can result in mutations that can cause various diseases, including cancer. Fortunately, the base excision repair (BER) pathway can repair modified nucleobases and prevent these deleterious mutations. However, this pathway can be hindered through several mechanisms. For instance, mutations to the enzymes in the BER pathway have been identified in cancers. Biochemical characterisation of these mutants has elucidated various mechanisms that inhibit their activity. Furthermore, the packaging of DNA into chromatin poses another obstacle to the ability of BER enzymes to function properly. Investigations of BER in the base unit of chromatin, the nucleosome core particle (NCP), have revealed that the NCP acts as a complex substrate for BER enzymes. The constituent proteins of the NCP, the histones, also have variants that can further impact the structure of the NCP and may modulate access of enzymes to the packaged DNA. These histone variants have also displayed significant clinical effects both in carcinogenesis and patient prognosis. This review focuses on the underlying molecular mechanisms that present obstacles to BER and the relationship of these obstacles to more » cancer. In addition, several chemotherapeutics induce DNA damage that can be repaired by the BER pathway and understanding obstacles to BER can inform how resistance and/or sensitivity to these therapies may occur. With the understanding of these molecular mechanisms, current chemotherapeutic treatment regiments may be improved, and future therapies developed. « less
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Motivation Somatic mutations result from processes related to DNA replication or environmental/lifestyle exposures. Knowing the activity of mutational processes in a tumor can inform personalized therapies, early detection, and understanding of tumorigenesis. Computational methods have revealed 30 validated signatures of mutational processes active in human cancers, where each signature is a pattern of single base substitutions. However, half of these signatures have no known etiology, and some similar signatures have distinct etiologies, making patterns of mutation signature activity hard to interpret. Existing mutation signature detection methods do not consider tumor-level clinical/demographic (e.g. smoking history) or molecular features (e.g. inactivations to DNA damage repair genes). Results To begin to address these challenges, we present the Tumor Covariate Signature Model (TCSM), the first method to directly model the effect of observed tumor-level covariates on mutation signatures. To this end, our model uses methods from Bayesian topic modeling to change the prior distribution on signature exposure conditioned on a tumor’s observed covariates. We also introduce methods for imputing covariates in held-out data and for evaluating the statistical significance of signature-covariate associations. On simulated and real data, we find that TCSM outperforms both non-negative matrix factorization and topic modeling-based approaches, particularly in recoveringmore »the ground truth exposure to similar signatures. We then use TCSM to discover five mutation signatures in breast cancer and predict homologous recombination repair deficiency in held-out tumors. We also discover four signatures in a combined melanoma and lung cancer cohort—using cancer type as a covariate—and provide statistical evidence to support earlier claims that three lung cancers from The Cancer Genome Atlas are misdiagnosed metastatic melanomas. Availability and implementation TCSM is implemented in Python 3 and available at, along with a data workflow for reproducing the experiments in the paper. Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.« less
  2. DNA base damage arises frequently in living cells and needs to be removed by base excision repair (BER) to prevent mutagenesis and genome instability. Both the formation and repair of base damage occur in chromatin and are conceivably affected by DNA-binding proteins such as transcription factors (TFs). However, to what extent TF binding affects base damage distribution and BER in cells is unclear. Here, we used a genome-wide damage mapping method, N -methylpurine-sequencing (NMP-seq), and characterized alkylation damage distribution and BER at TF binding sites in yeast cells treated with the alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS). Our data show that alkylation damage formation was mainly suppressed at the binding sites of yeast TFs ARS binding factor 1 (Abf1) and rDNA enhancer binding protein 1 (Reb1), but individual hotspots with elevated damage levels were also found. Additionally, Abf1 and Reb1 binding strongly inhibits BER in vivo and in vitro, causing slow repair both within the core motif and its adjacent DNA. Repair of ultraviolet (UV) damage by nucleotide excision repair (NER) was also inhibited by TF binding. Interestingly, TF binding inhibits a larger DNA region for NER relative to BER. The observed effects are caused by the TF–DNA interaction, because damagemore »formation and BER can be restored by depletion of Abf1 or Reb1 protein from the nucleus. Thus, our data reveal that TF binding significantly modulates alkylation base damage formation and inhibits repair by the BER pathway. The interplay between base damage formation and BER may play an important role in affecting mutation frequency in gene regulatory regions.« less
  3. Despite a large body of evidence supporting the role of aberrant DNA methylation in etiology of several human diseases, the fundamental mechanisms that regulate the activity of mammalian DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) are not fully understood. Recent advances in whole genome association studies have helped identify mutations and genetic alterations of DNMTs in various diseases that have a potential to affect the biological function and activity of these enzymes. Several of these mutations are germline-transmitted and associated with a number of hereditary disorders, which are potentially caused by aberrant DNA methylation patterns in the regulatory compartments of the genome. These hereditary disorders usually cause neurological dysfunction, growth defects, and inherited cancers. Biochemical and biological characterization of DNMT variants can reveal the molecular mechanism of these enzymes and give insights on their specific functions. In this review, we introduce roles and regulation of DNA methylation and DNMTs. We discuss DNMT mutations that are associated with rare diseases, the characterized effects of these mutations on enzyme activity and provide insights on their potential effects based on the known crystal structure of these proteins.
  4. Zhang, George (Ed.)
    Abstract All organisms encode enzymes that replicate, maintain, pack, recombine, and repair their genetic material. For this reason, mutation rates and biases also evolve by mutation, variation, and natural selection. By examining metagenomic time series of the Lenski long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) with Escherichia coli (Good BH, McDonald MJ, Barrick JE, Lenski RE, Desai MM. 2017. The dynamics of molecular evolution over 60,000 generations. Nature 551(7678):45–50.), we find that local mutation rate variation has evolved during the LTEE. Each LTEE population has evolved idiosyncratic differences in their rates of point mutations, indels, and mobile element insertions, due to the fixation of various hypermutator and antimutator alleles. One LTEE population, called Ara+3, shows a strong, symmetric wave pattern in its density of point mutations, radiating from the origin of replication. This pattern is largely missing from the other LTEE populations, most of which evolved missense, indel, or structural mutations in topA, fis, and dusB—loci that all affect DNA topology. The distribution of mutations in those genes over time suggests epistasis and historical contingency in the evolution of DNA topology, which may have in turn affected local mutation rates. Overall, the replicate populations of the LTEE have largely diverged in their mutationmore »rates and biases, even though they have adapted to identical abiotic conditions.« less
  5. AlkB is a bacterial Fe(II)– and 2-oxoglutarate–dependent dioxygenase that repairs a wide range of alkylated nucleobases in DNA and RNA as part of the adaptive response to exogenous nucleic acid–alkylating agents. Although there has been longstanding interest in the structure and specificity of Escherichia coli AlkB and its homologs, difficulties in assaying their repair activities have limited our understanding of their substrate specificities and kinetic mechanisms. Here, we used quantitative kinetic approaches to determine the transient kinetics of recognition and repair of alkylated DNA by AlkB. These experiments revealed that AlkB is a much faster alkylation repair enzyme than previously reported and that it is significantly faster than DNA repair glycosylases that recognize and excise some of the same base lesions. We observed that whereas 1, N 6 -ethenoadenine can be repaired by AlkB with similar efficiencies in both single- and double-stranded DNA, 1-methyladenine is preferentially repaired in single-stranded DNA. Our results lay the groundwork for future studies of AlkB and its human homologs ALKBH2 and ALKBH3.