Evidence from mutation spectra that the UV hypermutability of xeroderma pigmentosum variant cells reflects abnormal, error-prone replication on a template containing photoproducts

Yi Ching Wang, Veronica M. Maher, David L. Mitchell, J. Justin Mccormick

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Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) variant patients are genetically predisposed to sunlight-induced skin cancer. Fibroblasts derived from these patients are extremely sensitive to the mutagenic effect of UV radiation and are abnormally slow in replicating DNA containing UV-induced photoproducts. However, unlike cells from the majority of XP patients, XP variant cells have a normal or nearly normal rate of nucleotide excision repair of such damage. To determine whether their UV hypermutability reflected a slower rate of excision of photoproducts specifically during early S phase when the target gene for mutations, i.e., the hypoxanthine (guanine) phosphoribosyltransferase gene (HPRT), is replicated, we synchronized diploid populations of normal and XP variant fibroblasts, irradiated them in early S phase, and compared the rate of loss of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers and 6-4 pyrimidine-pyrimidones from DNA during S phase. There was no difference. Both removed 94% of the 6-4 pyrimidine-pyrimidones within 8 h and 40% of the dimers within 11 h. There was also no difference between the two cell lines in the rate of repair during G1 phase. To determine whether the hypermutability resulted from abnormal error-prone replication of DNA containing photoproducts, we determined the spectra of mutations induced in the coding region of the HPRT gene of XP variant cells irradiated in early S and G1 phases and compared them with those found in normal cells. The majority of the mutations in both types of cells were base substitutions, but the two types of cells differed significantly from each other in the kinds of substitutions observed either in mutants from S phase (P < 0.01) or from G1 phase (P = 0.03). In the variant cells, the substitutions were mainly transversions (58% in S, 73% in G1). In normal cells, transversions were much rarer (8% in S, 24% in G1; P < 0.001 for S, P < 0.01 for G1). In the normal cells irradiated in S, the majority of the substitutions were G·C→A·T, and most involved CC photoproducts in the transcribed strand. In the variant cells irradiated in S, substitutions involving cytosine in the transcribed strand were G·C→T·A transversions exclusively. G·C→A·T transitions made up a much smaller fraction of the substitutions than in normal cells (P < 0.02), and all of them involved photoproducts located in the nontranscribed strand. The data strongly suggest that XP variant cells are much less likely than normal cells to incorporate either dAMP or dGMP opposite the pyrimidines involved in photoproducts. This would account for their significantly higher frequency of mutants and might explain their abnormal delay in replicating a UV-damaged template.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4276-4283
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1993 Jul

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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