Ulrich Hübscher

University of Zurich, Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland

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Publications (272)1600.62 Total impact

  • Barbara van Loon · Roger Woodgate · Ulrich Hübscher

    No preview · Article · May 2015 · DNA repair
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    ABSTRACT: Background The human polyomavirus BK expresses a 66 amino-acid peptide referred to as agnoprotein. Though mutants lacking agnoprotein are severely reduced in producing infectious virions, the exact function of this peptide remains incompletely understood. To elucidate the function of agnoprotein, we searched for novel cellular interaction partners.Methods Yeast-two hybrid assay was performed with agnoprotein as bait against human kidney and thymus libraries. The interaction between agnoprotein and putative partners was further examined by GST pull down, co-immunoprecipitation, and fluorescence resonance energy transfer studies. Biochemical and biological studies were performed to examine the functional implication of the interaction of agnoprotein with cellular target proteins.ResultsProliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), which acts as a processivity factor for DNA polymerase ¿, was identified as an interaction partner. The interaction between agnoprotein and PCNA is direct and occurs also in human cells. Agnoprotein exerts an inhibitory effect on PCNA-dependent DNA synthesis in vitro and reduces cell proliferation when ectopically expressed. Overexpression of PCNA restores agnoprotein-mediated inhibition of cell proliferation.Conclusion Our data suggest that PCNA is a genuine interaction partner of agnoprotein and the inhibitory effect on PCNA-dependent DNA synthesis by the agnoprotein may play a role in switching off (viral) DNA replication late in the viral replication cycle when assembly of replicated genomes and synthesized viral capsid proteins occurs.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Virology Journal
  • Emmanuele Crespan · Ulrich Hübscher · Giovanni Maga
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurological genetic disorder caused by the expansion of the CAG trinucleotide repeats (TNR) in the N-terminal region of coding sequence of the Huntingtin's (HTT) gene. This results in the addition of a poly-glutamine tract within the Huntingtin protein, resulting in its pathological form. The mechanism by which TRN expansion takes place is not yet fully understood. We have recently shown that DNA polymerase (Pol) β can promote the microhomology-mediated end joining and triplet expansion of a substrate mimicking a double strand break in the TNR region of the HTT gene. Here we show that TNR expansion is dependent on the structure of the DNA substrate, as well as on the two essential Pol β co-factors: flap endonuclease 1 (Fen1) and DNA ligase 1 (Lig1). We found that Fen1 significantly stimulated TNR expansion by Pol β, but not by the related enzyme Pol λ, and subsequent ligation of the DNA products by Lig1. Interestingly, the deletion of N-terminal domains of Pol λ, resulted in an enzyme which displayed properties more similar to Pol β, suggesting a possible evolutionary mechanism. These results may suggest a novel mechanism for somatic TNR expansion in HD. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · DNA Repair
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    ABSTRACT: The bypass of DNA lesions by the replication fork requires a switch between the replicative DNA polymerase (Pol) and a more specialized translesion synthesis (TLS) Pol to overcome the obstacle. DNA Pol δ-interacting protein 2 (PolDIP2) has been found to physically interact with Pol η, Pol ζ, and Rev1, suggesting a possible role of PolDIP2 in the TLS reaction. However, the consequences of PolDIP2 interaction on the properties of TLS Pols remain unknown. Here, we analyzed the effects of PolDIP2 on normal and TLS by five different human specialized Pols from three families: Pol δ (family B), Pol η and Pol ι (family Y), and Pol λ and Pol β (family X). Our results show that PolDIP2 also physically interacts with Pol λ, which is involved in the correct bypass of 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine (8-oxo-G) lesions. This interaction increases both the processivity and catalytic efficiency of the error-free bypass of a 8-oxo-G lesion by both Pols η and λ, but not by Pols β or ι. Additionally, we provide evidence that PolDIP2 stimulates Pol δ without affecting its fidelity, facilitating the switch from Pol δ to Pol λ during 8-oxo-G TLS. PolDIP2 stimulates Pols λ and η mediated bypass of other common DNA lesions, such as abasic sites and cyclobutane thymine dimers. Finally, PolDIP2 silencing increases cell sensitivity to oxidative stress and its effect is further potentiated in a Pol λ deficient background, suggesting that PolDIP2 is an important mediator for TLS.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    Enni Markkanen · Julia Dorn · Ulrich Hübscher
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    ABSTRACT: Maintenance of genetic stability is crucial for all organisms in order to avoid the onset of deleterious diseases such as cancer. One of the many proveniences of DNA base damage in mammalian cells is oxidative stress, arising from a variety of endogenous and exogenous sources, generating highly mutagenic oxidative DNA lesions. One of the best characterized oxidative DNA lesion is 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine (8-oxo-G), which can give rise to base substitution mutations (also known as point mutations). This mutagenicity is due to the miscoding potential of 8-oxo-G that instructs most DNA polymerases (pols) to preferentially insert an Adenine (A) opposite 8-oxo-G instead of the appropriate Cytosine (C). If left unrepaired, such A:8-oxo-G mispairs can give rise to CG->AT transversion mutations. A:8-oxo-G mispairs are proficiently recognized by the MutY glycosylase homologue (MUTYH). MUTYH can remove the mispaired A from an A:8-oxo-G, giving way to the canonical base excision repair (BER) that ultimately restores undamaged Guanine (G). The importance of this MUTYH-initiated pathway is illustrated by the fact that biallelic mutations in the MUTYH gene are associated with a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome termed MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP). In this review, we will focus on MUTYH, from its discovery to the most recent data regarding its cellular roles and interaction partners. We discuss the involvement of the MUTYH protein in the A:8-oxo-G BER pathway acting together with pol λ, the pol that can faithfully incorporate C opposite 8-oxo-G and thus bypass this lesion in a correct manner. We also outline the current knowledge about the regulation of MUTYH itself and the A:8-oxo-G repair pathway by posttranslational modifications (PTM). Finally, to achieve a clearer overview of the literature, we will briefly touch on the rather confusing MUTYH nomenclature. In short, MUTYH is a unique DNA glycosylase that catalyzes the excision of an undamaged base from DNA.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · Frontiers in Genetics
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    Grigory L Dianov · Ulrich Hübscher
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    ABSTRACT: Base excision repair (BER) is a frontline repair system that is responsible for maintaining genome integrity and thus preventing premature aging, cancer and many other human diseases by repairing thousands of DNA lesions and strand breaks continuously caused by endogenous and exogenous mutagens. This fundamental and essential function of BER not only necessitates tight control of the continuous availability of basic components for fast and accurate repair, but also requires temporal and spatial coordination of BER and cell cycle progression to prevent replication of damaged DNA. The major goal of this review is to critically examine controversial and newly emerging questions about mammalian BER pathways, mechanisms regulating BER capacity, BER responses to DNA damage and their links to checkpoint control of DNA replication.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2013 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: 7,8-Dihydro-8-oxoguanine (8-oxo-G) is a highly abundant and mutagenic lesion. Replicative DNA polymerases (pols) are slowed down at 8-oxo-G and insert both correct cytosine (C) and incorrect adenine (A) opposite 8-oxo-G, but they preferentially extend A:8-oxo-G mispairs. Nevertheless, 8-oxo-G bypass is fairly accurate in vivo. Thus, the question how correct bypass of 8-oxo-G lesions is accomplished despite the poor extension of C:8-oxo-G base pairs by replicative pols remains unanswered. Here we show that replicative pol δ pauses in front of 8-oxo-G and displays difficulties extending from correct C:8-oxo-G in contrast to extension from incorrect A:8-oxo-G. This leads to stalling of pol δ at 8-oxo-G after incorporation of correct C. This stalling at C:8-oxo-G can be overcome by a switch from pol δ to pols λ, β, or η, all of which are able to assist pol δ in 8-oxo-G bypass by translesion synthesis (TLS). Importantly, however, only pol λ selectively catalyzes the correct TLS past 8-oxo-G, whereas pols β and η show no selectivity and even preferentially enhance incorrect TLS. The selectivity of pol λ to promote the correct bypass depends on its N-terminal domain. Furthermore, pol λ(-/-) mouse embryonic fibroblast extracts display reduced 8-oxo-G TLS. Finally, the correct bypass of 8-oxo-G in gapped plasmids in mouse embryonic fibroblasts and HeLa cells is promoted in the presence of pol λ. Our findings suggest that even though 8-oxo-G is not a blocking lesion per se, correct replication over 8-oxo-G is promoted by a pol switch between pols δ and λ.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Human DNA polymerase (pol) λ functions in base excision repair and non-homologous end joining. We have previously shown that DNA pol λ is involved in accurate bypass of the two frequent oxidative lesions, 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine and 1,2-dihydro-2-oxoadenine during the S phase. However, nothing is known so far about the relationship of DNA pol λ with the S phase DNA damage response checkpoint. Here, we show that a knockdown of DNA pol λ, but not of its close homologue DNA pol β, results in replication fork stress and activates the S phase checkpoint, slowing S phase progression in different human cancer cell lines. We furthermore show that DNA pol λ protects cells from oxidative DNA damage and also functions in rescuing stalled replication forks. Its absence becomes lethal for a cell when a functional checkpoint is missing, suggesting a DNA synthesis deficiency. Our results provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, that DNA pol λ is required for cell cycle progression and is functionally connected to the S phase DNA damage response machinery in cancer cells.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: The C1'-oxidized lesion 2-deoxyribonolactone (L) is induced by free radical attack of DNA. This lesion is mutagenic, inhibits base excision repair, and can lead to strand scission. In double stranded DNA L is repaired by long-patch base excision repair, but it induces replication fork arrest in a single-strand template. Translesion synthesis requires a specialized DNA polymerase (Pol). In E. coli, Pol V is responsible for bypassing L, while in yeast Pol ζ has been shown to be required for efficient bypass. Very little is known about the identity of human Pols capable of bypassing L. For instance, the activity of family X enzymes has never been investigated. We examined the ability of different family X Pols: Pols β, λ and TdT from human cells and Pol IV from S. cerevisiae to act on DNA containing an isolated 2-deoxyribonolactone, as well as when the lesion comprises the 5'-component of a tandem lesion. We show that Pol β, but not Pol λ, can bypass a single L lesion in the template, and its activity is increased by the auxiliary protein proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), while both enzymes were completely blocked by a tandem lesion. Yeast Pol IV was able to bypass the single L and the tandem lesion but with little nucleotide insertion specificity. Finally, L did not affect the polymerization activity of the template-independent enzyme TdT.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · ACS Chemical Biology
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    ABSTRACT: Reactive oxygen species constantly generated as by-products of cellular metabolism readily attack genomic DNA creating mutagenic lesions such as 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-guanine (8-oxo-G) that promote aging. 8-oxo-G:A mispairs arising during DNA replication are eliminated by base excision repair initiated by the MutY DNA glycosylase homologue (MUTYH). Here, by using formaldehyde crosslinking in mammalian cell extracts, we demonstrate that the WRN helicase/exonuclease defective in the premature aging disorder Werner syndrome (WS) is recruited to DNA duplex containing an 8-oxo-G:A mispair in a manner dependent on DNA polymerase λ (Polλ) that catalyzes accurate DNA synthesis over 8-oxo-G. Similarly, by immunofluorescence, we show that Polλ is required for accumulation of WRN at sites of 8-oxo-G lesions in human cells. Moreover, we show that nuclear focus formation of WRN and Polλ induced by oxidative stress is dependent on ongoing DNA replication and on the presence of MUTYH. Cell viability assays reveal that depletion of MUTYH suppresses the hypersensitivity of cells lacking WRN and/or Polλ to oxidative stress. Biochemical studies demonstrate that WRN binds to the catalytic domain of Polλ and specifically stimulates DNA gap filling by Polλ over 8-oxo-G followed by strand displacement synthesis. Our results suggest that WRN promotes long-patch DNA repair synthesis by Polλ during MUTYH-initiated repair of 8-oxo-G:A mispairs.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    Enni Markkanen · Ulrich Hübscher · Barbara van Loon
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    ABSTRACT: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) constantly attack DNA. One of the best-characterized oxidative DNA lesions is 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine (8-oxo-G). Many human diseases, such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, have been correlated with oxidative DNA damage. In the last few years, DNA polymerase (Pol) λ, one of the 15 cellular Pols, has been identified to play an important role in performing accurate translesion synthesis over 8-oxo-G. This is eminently important, since normally faithful replicative Pols α, δ and ε, with their tight active center, often wrongly incorporate adenine (A) opposite the 8-oxo-G lesion. A:8- oxo-G mispairs are accurately repaired by the pathway identified in our laboratory involving MutY DNA glycosylase homolog (MutYH) and Pol λ. Until now, very little was known about the spatial and temporal regulation of Pol λ and MutYH in active repair complexes. We now showed in our latest publication that the E3 ligase Mule can ubiquitinate and degrade Pol λ, and that the control of Pol λ levels by Mule has functional consequences for the ability of mammalian cells to deal with 8-oxo-G lesions. In contrast, phosphorylation of Pol λ by Cdk2/cyclinA counteracts this degradation by recruiting it to MutYH on chromatin to form active 8-oxo-G repair complexes.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)
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    Emmanuele Crespan · Tibor Czabany · Giovanni Maga · Ulrich Hübscher
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    ABSTRACT: ‘Classical’ non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), dependent on the Ku70/80 and the DNA ligase IV/XRCC4 complexes, is essential for the repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Eukaryotic cells possess also an alternative microhomology-mediated end-joining (MMEJ) mechanism, which is independent from Ku and DNA ligase 4/XRCC4. The components of the MMEJ machinery are still largely unknown. Family X DNA polymerases (pols) are involved in the classical NHEJ pathway. We have compared in this work, the ability of human family X DNA pols β, λ and μ, to promote the MMEJ of different model templates with terminal microhomology regions. Our results reveal that DNA pol λ and DNA ligase I are sufficient to promote efficient MMEJ repair of broken DNA ends in vitro, and this in the absence of auxiliary factors. However, DNA pol β, not λ, was more efficient in promoting MMEJ of DNA ends containing the (CAG)n triplet repeat sequence of the human Huntingtin gene, leading to triplet expansion. The checkpoint complex Rad9/Hus1/Rad1 promoted end joining by DNA pol λ on non-repetitive sequences, while it limited triplet expansion by DNA pol β. We propose a possible novel role of DNA pol β in MMEJ, promoting (CAG)n triplet repeats instability.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Nucleic Acids Research
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    ABSTRACT: It is of pivotal importance for genome stability that repair DNA polymerases (Pols), such as Pols λ and β, which all exhibit considerably reduced fidelity when replicating undamaged DNA, are tightly regulated, because their misregulation could lead to mutagenesis. Recently, we found that the correct repair of the abundant and highly miscoding oxidative DNA lesion 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanine (8-oxo-G) is performed by an accurate repair pathway that is coordinated by the MutY glycosylase homologue (MutYH) and Pol λ in vitro and in vivo. Pol λ is phosphorylated by Cdk2/cyclinA in late S and G2 phases of the cell cycle, promoting Pol λ stability by preventing it from being targeted for proteasomal degradation by ubiquitination. However, it has remained a mystery how the levels of Pol λ are controlled, how phosphorylation promotes its stability, and how the engagement of Pol λ in active repair complexes is coordinated. Here, we show that the E3 ligase Mule mediates the degradation of Pol λ and that the control of Pol λ levels by Mule has functional consequences for the ability of mammalian cells to deal with 8-oxo-G lesions. Furthermore, we demonstrate that phosphorylation of Pol λ by Cdk2/cyclinA counteracts its Mule-mediated degradation by promoting recruitment of Pol λ to chromatin into active 8-oxo-G repair complexes through an increase in Pol λ's affinity to chromatin-bound MutYH. Finally, MutYH appears to promote the stability of Pol λ by binding it to chromatin. In contrast, Pol λ not engaged in active repair on chromatin is subject for proteasomal degradation.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Genotoxic stress results in more than 50 000 damaged DNA sites per cell per day. During DNA replication, processive high-fidelity DNA polymerases generally stall at DNA lesions and have to be displaced by translesion synthesis DNA polymerases, which are able to bypass the lesion. This switch is mediated by mono-ubiquitination of the processivity factor proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). To further investigate the regulation of the DNA polymerase exchange, we developed an easy and efficient method to synthesize site-specifically mono-ubiquitinated PCNA by click chemistry. By incorporating artificial amino acids that carry an azide (Aha) or an alkyne (Plk) in their side chains, into ubiquitin (Ub) and PCNA, respectively, we were able to link the two proteins site-specifically by the Cu(I) -catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition. Finally, we show that the synthetic PCNA-Ub is able to stimulate DNA synthesis by DNA polymerase δ, and that DNA polymerase η has a higher affinity for PCNA-Ub than to PCNA.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · ChemBioChem
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    Emmanuele Crespan · Giovanni Maga · Ulrich Hübscher
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    ABSTRACT: Replicative DNA polymerases (DNA pols) increase their fidelity by removing misincorporated nucleotides with their 3' → 5' exonuclease activity. Exonuclease activity reduces translesion synthesis (TLS) efficiency and TLS DNA pols lack 3' → 5' exonuclease activity. Here we show that physiological concentrations of pyrophosphate (PP(i)) activate the pyrophosphorolytic activity by DNA pol-λ, allowing the preferential excision of the incorrectly incorporated A opposite a 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine lesion, or T opposite a 6-methyl-guanine, with respect to the correct C. This is the first example of an alternative proofreading mechanism used during TLS.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2011 · EMBO Reports
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    ABSTRACT: Unrepaired DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) cause genetic instability that leads to malignant transformation or cell death. Cells respond to DSBs with the ordered recruitment of signalling and repair proteins to the site of lesion. Protein modification with ubiquitin is crucial for the signalling cascade, but how ubiquitylation coordinates the dynamic assembly of these complexes is poorly understood. Here, we show that the human ubiquitin-selective protein segregase p97 (also known as VCP; valosin-containing protein) cooperates with the ubiquitin ligase RNF8 to orchestrate assembly of signalling complexes and efficient DSB repair after exposure to ionizing radiation. p97 is recruited to DNA lesions by its ubiquitin adaptor UFD1-NPL4 and Lys-48-linked ubiquitin (K48-Ub) chains, whose formation is regulated by RNF8. p97 subsequently removes K48-Ub conjugates from sites of DNA damage to orchestrate proper association of 53BP1, BRCA1 and RAD51, three factors critical for DNA repair and genome surveillance mechanisms. Impairment of p97 activity decreases the level of DSB repair and cell survival after exposure to ionizing radiation. These findings identify the p97-UFD1-NPL4 complex as an essential factor in ubiquitin-governed DNA-damage response, highlighting its importance in guarding genome stability.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Nature Cell Biology
  • Ulrich Hübscher · Giovanni Maga
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    ABSTRACT: Maintenance of genetic stability is of crucial importance for any form of life. Before cell division in each mammalian cell, the process of DNA replication must faithfully duplicate three billion bases with an absolute minimum of mistakes. This is complicated by the fact that DNA itself is highly reactive and is constantly attacked by endogenous and exogenous factors leading to 50,000-100,000 different damages in the DNA of human cells every day. In this mini-review we will focus on lesion bypass by DNA polymerase machines either in replication or repair, with particular focus on the repair of oxidative lesions.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2011 · Current opinion in chemical biology
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    Enni Markkanen · Barbara van Loon · Elena Ferrari · Ulrich Hübscher
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    ABSTRACT: DNA polymerase (pol) λ, one of the 15 cellular pols, belongs to the X family. It is a small 575 amino-acid protein containing a polymerase, a dRP-lyase, a proline/serine rich and a BRCT domain. Pol λ shows various enzymatic activities including DNA polymerization, terminal transferase and dRP-lyase. It has been implicated to play a role in several DNA repair pathways, particularly base excision repair (BER), non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) and translesion DNA synthesis (TLS). Similarly to other DNA repair enzymes, pol λ undergoes posttranslational modifications during the cell cycle that regulate its stability and possibly its subcellular localization. Here we describe our knowledge about ubiquitylation of pol λ and the impact of this modification on its regulation.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · FEBS letters
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    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2010 · ChemInform
  • Barbara van Loon · Enni Markkanen · Ulrich Hübscher
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    ABSTRACT: The maintenance of genetic stability is of crucial importance for any form of life. Prior to cell division in each mammalian cell, the process of DNA replication must faithfully duplicate the three billion bases with an absolute minimum of mistakes. Various environmental and endogenous agents, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), can modify the structural properties of DNA bases and thus damage the DNA. Upon exposure of cells to oxidative stress, an often generated and highly mutagenic DNA damage is 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-guanine (8-oxo-G). The estimated steady-state level of 8-oxo-G lesions is about 10(3) per cell/per day in normal tissues and up to 10(5) lesions per cell/per day in cancer tissues. The presence of 8-oxo-G on the replicating strand leads to frequent (10-75%) misincorporations of adenine opposite the lesion (formation of A:8-oxo-G mispairs), subsequently resulting in C:G to A:T transversion mutations. These mutations are among the most predominant somatic mutations in lung, breast, ovarian, gastric and colorectal cancers. Thus, in order to reduce the mutational burden of ROS, human cells have evolved base excision repair (BER) pathways ensuring (i) the correct and efficient repair of A:8-oxo-G mispairs and (ii) the removal of 8-oxo-G lesions from the genome. Very recently it was shown that MutY glycosylase homologue (MUTYH) and DNA polymerase lambda play a crucial role in the accurate repair of A:8-oxo-G mispairs. Here we review the importance of accurate BER of 8-oxo-G damage and its regulation in prevention of cancer.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2010 · DNA repair

Publication Stats

11k Citations
1,600.62 Total Impact Points


  • 1970-2015
    • University of Zurich
      • Institute of Veterinary Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
      Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2013
    • University of Oxford
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
  • 2012
    • National Institute on Aging
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2010
    • Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 2002
    • French National Centre for Scientific Research
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 1979-1981
    • Stanford Medicine
      Stanford, California, United States
  • 1980
    • University of California, Davis
      • School of Medicine
      Davis, California, United States