[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Observations that genome-wide DNA hypomethylation induces genome instability and tumors in animals caution against the indiscriminate use of demethylating agents, such as 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC). Using primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts harboring a lacZ mutational reporter construct that allows the quantification and characterization of a wide range of mutational events, we found that, in addition to demethylation, treatment with 5-Aza-dC induces γ-H2AX expression, a marker for DNA breaks, and both point mutations and genome rearrangements. To gain insight into the source of these mutations, we first tested the hypothesis that the mutagenic effect of 5-Aza-dC may be directly mediated through the DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) covalently trapped in 5-Aza-dC-substituted DNA. Knockdown of DNMT1 resulted in increased resistance to the cytostatic effects of 5-Aza-dC, delayed onset of γ-H2AX expression and a significant reduction in the frequency of genome rearrangements. There was no effect on the 5-Aza-dC-induced point mutations. An alternative mechanism for 5-Aza-dC-induced demethylation and genome rearrangements via activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) followed by base excision repair (BER) was found not to be involved. That is, 5-Aza-dC treatment did not significantly induce AID expression and inhibition of BER did not reduce the frequency of genome rearrangements. Thus, our results indicate that the formation of DNMT1 adducts is the prevalent mechanism of 5-Aza-dC-induced genome rearrangements, although hypomethylation per se may still contribute. As the therapeutic effects of 5-Aza-dC greatly depend on the presence of DNMT1, the expression level of DNA methyltransferases in tumors may serve as a prognostic factor for the efficacy of 5-Aza-dC treatment.Oncogene advance online publication, 20 February 2012; doi:10.1038/onc.2012.9.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA mutations are the source of genetic variation within populations. The majority of mutations with observable effects are deleterious. In humans mutations in the germ line can cause genetic disease. In somatic cells multiple rounds of mutations and selection lead to cancer. The study of genetic variation has progressed rapidly since the completion of the draft sequence of the human genome. Recent advances in sequencing technology, most importantly the introduction of massively parallel sequencing (MPS), have resulted in more than a hundred-fold reduction in the time and cost required for sequencing nucleic acids. These improvements have greatly expanded the use of sequencing as a practical tool for mutation analysis. While in the past the high cost of sequencing limited mutation analysis to selectable markers or small forward mutation targets assumed to be representative for the genome overall, current platforms allow whole genome sequencing for less than $5000. This has already given rise to direct estimates of germline mutation rates in multiple organisms including humans by comparing whole genome sequences between parents and offspring. Here we present a brief history of the field of mutation research, with a focus on classical tools for the measurement of mutation rates. We then review MPS, how it is currently applied and the new insight into human and animal mutation frequencies and spectra that has been obtained from whole genome sequencing. While great progress has been made, we note that the single most important limitation of current MPS approaches for mutation analysis is the inability to address low-abundance mutations that turn somatic tissues into mosaics of cells. Such mutations are at the basis of intra-tumor heterogeneity, with important implications for clinical diagnosis, and could also contribute to somatic diseases other than cancer, including aging. Some possible approaches to gain access to low-abundance mutations are discussed, with a brief overview of new sequencing platforms that are currently waiting in the wings to advance this exploding field even further.
Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 01/2012; 729(1-2):1-15. · 3.90 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA mutations are the inevitable consequences of errors that arise during replication and repair of DNA damage. Because of their random and infrequent occurrence, quantification and characterization of DNA mutations in the genome of somatic cells has been difficult. Random, low-abundance mutations are currently inaccessible by standard high-throughput sequencing approaches because they cannot be distinguished from sequencing errors. One way to circumvent this problem and simultaneously account for the mutational heterogeneity within tissues is whole genome sequencing of a representative number of single cells. Here, we show elevated mutation levels in single cells from Drosophila melanogaster S2 and mouse embryonic fibroblast populations after treatment with the powerful mutagen N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea. This method can be applied as a direct measure of exposure to mutagenic agents and for assessing genotypic heterogeneity within tissues or cell populations.
Nucleic Acids Research 11/2011; 40(5):2032-40. · 8.28 Impact Factor