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J Biol Chem. 2000 Nov 17;275(46):36256-62.

Nuclear translocation of mismatch repair proteins MSH2 and MSH6 as a response of cells to alkylating agents.

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  • 1Division of Applied Toxicology, Institute of Toxicology, University of Mainz, Obere Zahlbacher Strasse 67, D-55131 Mainz, Germany.


Mammalian mismatch repair has been implicated in mismatch correction, the prevention of mutagenesis and cancer, and the induction of genotoxicity and apoptosis. Here, we show that treatment of cells specifically with agents inducing O(6)-methylguanine in DNA, such as N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine and N-methyl-N-nitrosourea, elevates the level of MSH2 and MSH6 and increases GT mismatch binding activity in the nucleus. This inducible response occurs immediately after alkylation, is long-lasting and dose-dependent, and results from translocation of the preformed MutSalpha complex (composed of MSH2 and MSH6) from the cytoplasm into the nucleus. It is not caused by an increase in MSH2 gene activity. Cells expressing the DNA repair protein O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), thus having the ability to repair O(6)-methylguanine, showed no translocation of MutSalpha, whereas inhibition of MGMT by O(6)-benzylguanine provoked the translocation. The results demonstrate that O(6)-methylguanine lesions are involved in triggering nuclear accumulation of MSH2 and MSH6. The finding that treatment of cells with O(6)-methylguanine-generating mutagens results in an increase of MutSalpha and GT binding activity in the nucleus indicates a novel type of genotoxic stress response.

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