High-resolution digital mapping of N-methylpurines in human cells reveals modulation of their induction and repair by nearest-neighbor nucleotides. [Enzymology]

August 3rd, 2015 by Li, M., Ko, T., Li, S.

N-methylpurines (NMPs), including N7-methylguanine (7MeG) and N3-methyladenine (3MeA), can be induced by environmental methylating agents, chemotherapeutics and natural cellular methyl donors. In human cells, NMPs are repaired by the multi-step base excision repair pathway initiated by human alkyladenine glycosylase (hAAG). Repair of NMPs has been shown to be affected by DNA sequence contexts. However, the nature of the sequence contexts has been poorly understood. We developed a sensitive method, LAF-Seq (Lesion-Adjoining Fragment Sequencing), which allows nucleotide-resolution digital mapping of DNA damage and repair in multiple genomic fragments of interest in human cells. We also developed a strategy that allows accurate measurement of the excision kinetics of NMP bases in vitro. We demonstrate that 3MeAs are induced to a much lower level by the SN2 methylating agent dimethyl sulfate (DMS) and repaired much faster than 7MeGs in human fibroblasts. Induction of 7MeGs by DMS is affected by nearest-neighbor nucleotides, being enhanced at sites neighbored by a G or T on the 3' side, but impaired at sites neighbored by a G on the 5' side. Repair of 7MeGs is also affected by nearest-neighbor nucleotides, being slow if the lesions are between purines, especially Gs, and fast if the lesions are between pyrimidines, especially Ts. Excision of 7MeG bases from the DNA backbone by hAAG in vitro is similarly affected by nearest-neighbor nucleotides, suggesting that the effect of nearest-neighbor nucleotides on repair of 7MeGs in the cells is primarily achieved by modulating the initial step of the base excision repair process.
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