- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aberrant methylations in DNA are repaired by base excision repair (BER) and direct repair by a methyltransferase or by an oxidative demethylase of the AlkB type. Yang et al. [Nature 452 (2008) 961-966] have now solved the crystal structure of AlkB and human AlkB homolog 2 (hABH2) in complex with DNA using an ingenious crosslinking strategy to stabilize the DNA-protein complex. AlkB proteins have similar catalytic domains, but different DNA recognition motifs. Whereas AlkB mainly makes contact with the damaged strand, hABH2 makes numerous contacts with both strands. hABH2 flips out the damaged base and fills the vacant space by a hydrophobic amino acid residue similar to DNA glycosylases, essentially without distorting the double helix structure. In contrast, AlkB squeezes together the bases flanking the flipped-out base to maintain the base stack. This unprecedented flipping mechanism and the differences between AlkB and hABH2 in contacting the DNA strands explain their preferences for single stranded- and double stranded DNA, respectively.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Escherichia coli AlkB protein and human homologs hABH2 and hABH3 are 2-oxoglutarate (2OG)/Fe(II)-dependent DNA/RNA demethylases that repair 1-methyladenine and 3-methylcytosine residues. Surprisingly, hABH1, which displays the strongest homology to AlkB, failed to show repair activity in two independent studies. Here, we show that hABH1 is a mitochondrial protein, as demonstrated using fluorescent fusion protein expression, immunocytochemistry, and Western blot analysis. A fraction is apparently nuclear and this fraction increases strongly if the fluorescent tag is placed at the N-terminal end of the protein, thus interfering with mitochondrial targeting. Molecular modeling of hABH1 based upon the sequence and known structures of AlkB and hABH3 suggested an active site almost identical to these enzymes. hABH1 decarboxylates 2OG in the absence of a prime substrate, and the activity is stimulated by methylated nucleotides. Employing three different methods we demonstrate that hABH1 demethylates 3-methylcytosine in single-stranded DNA and RNA in vitro. Site-specific mutagenesis confirmed that the putative Fe(II) and 2OG binding residues are essential for activity. In conclusion, hABH1 is a functional mitochondrial AlkB homolog that repairs 3-methylcytosine in single-stranded DNA and RNA.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Methylating agents are ubiquitous in the environment, and central in cancer therapy. The 1-methyladenine and 3-methylcytosine lesions in DNA/RNA contribute to the cytotoxicity of such agents. These lesions are directly reversed by ABH3 (hABH3) in humans and AlkB in Escherichia coli. Here, we report the structure of the hABH3 catalytic core in complex with iron and 2-oxoglutarate (2OG) at 1.5 Å resolution and analyse key site-directed mutants. The hABH3 structure reveals the -strand jelly-roll fold that coordinates a catalytically active iron centre by a conserved His1-X-Asp/Glu-Xn-His2 motif. This experimentally establishes hABH3 as a structural member of the Fe(II)/2OG-dependent dioxygenase superfamily, which couples substrate oxidation to conversion of 2OG into succinate and CO2. A positively charged DNA/RNA binding groove indicates a distinct nucleic acid binding conformation different from that predicted in the AlkB structure with three nucleotides. These results uncover previously unassigned key catalytic residues, identify a flexible hairpin involved in nucleotide flipping and ss/ds-DNA discrimination, and reveal self-hydroxylation of an active site leucine that may protect against uncoupled generation of dangerous oxygen radicals.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two human homologs of the Escherichia coli AlkB protein, denoted hABH2 and hABH3, were recently shown to directly reverse 1-methyladenine (1meA) and 3-methylcytosine (3meC) damages in DNA. We demonstrate that mice lacking functional mABH2 or mABH3 genes, or both, are viable and without overt phenotypes. Neither were histopathological changes observed in the gene-targeted mice. However, in the absence of any exogenous exposure to methylating agents, mice lacking mABH2, but not mABH3 defective mice, accumulate significant levels of 1meA in the genome, suggesting the presence of a biologically relevant endogenous source of methylating agent. Furthermore, embryonal fibroblasts from mABH2-deficient mice are unable to remove methyl methane sulfate (MMS)-induced 1meA from genomic DNA and display increased cytotoxicity after MMS exposure. In agreement with these results, we found that in vitro repair of 1meA and 3meC in double-stranded DNA by nuclear extracts depended primarily, if not solely, on mABH2. Our data suggest that mABH2 and mABH3 have different roles in the defense against alkylating agents.