The lyase activity of the DNA repair protein β-polymerase protects from DNA-damage-induced cytotoxicity


Small DNA lesions such as oxidized or alkylated bases are repaired by the base excision repair (BER) pathway1. BER includes removal of the damaged base by a lesion-specific DNA glycosylase, strand scission by apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease, DNA resynthesis and ligation2. BER may be further subdivided into DNA β-polymerase (β-pol)-dependent single-nucleotide repair and β-pol-dependent or -independent long patch repair subpathways3,4,5,6. Two important enzymatic steps in mammalian single-nucleotide BER are contributed by β-pol: DNA resynthesis of the repair patch and lyase removal of 5′-deoxyribose phosphate (dRP)2. Fibroblasts from β-pol null mice are hypersensitive to monofunctional DNA-methylating agents, resulting in increases in chromosomal damage, apoptosis and necrotic cell death3,7. Here we show that only the dRP lyase activity of β-pol is required to reverse methylating agent hypersensitivity in β-pol null cells. These results indicate that removal of the dRP group is a pivotal step in BER in vivo. Persistence of the dRP moiety in DNA results in the hypersensitivity phenotype of β-pol null cells and may signal downstream events such as apoptosis and necrotic cell death.

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Figure 1: Sensitivity of fibroblast cell lines to MMS.
Figure 2: DNA synthesis activity of β-pol is not required to reverse the MMS hypersensitivity of β-pol null cells.
Figure 3: RP lyase activity of β-pol is sufficient to reverse the MMS hypersensitivity of β-pol null cells.
Figure 4: RP lyase activity in whole-cell extracts from stably transfected β-pol null cell lines.


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We thank W. A. Beard and K. R. Tindall for critical reading of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Samuel H. Wilson.

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Sobol, R., Prasad, R., Evenski, A. et al. The lyase activity of the DNA repair protein β-polymerase protects from DNA-damage-induced cytotoxicity. Nature 405, 807–810 (2000) doi:10.1038/35015598

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