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Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Sep;24(18):8145-53.

Spontaneous mutagenesis is enhanced in Apex heterozygous mice.

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  • 1Department of Cellular & Structural Biology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 78229-3900, USA.


Germ line DNA directs the development of the next generation and, as such, is profoundly different from somatic cell DNA. Spermatogenic cells obtained from young adult lacI transgenic mice display a lower spontaneous mutant frequency and greater in vitro base excision repair activity than somatic cells and tissues obtained from the same mice. However, spermatogenic cells from old lacI mice display a 10-fold higher mutant frequency. This increased spontaneous mutant frequency occurs coincidentally with decreased in vitro base excision repair activity for germ cell and testicular extracts that in turn corresponds to a decreased abundance of AP endonuclease. To directly test whether a genetic diminution of AP endonuclease results in increased spontaneous mutant frequencies in spermatogenic cell types, AP endonuclease heterozygous (Apex(+/-)) knockout mice were crossed with lacI transgenic mice. Spontaneous mutant frequencies were significantly elevated (approximately twofold) for liver and spleen obtained from 3-month-old Apex(+/-) lacI(+) mice compared to frequencies from Apex(+/+) lacI(+) littermates and were additionally elevated for somatic tissues from 9-month-old mice. Spermatogenic cells from 9-month-old Apex(+/-) lacI(+) mice were significantly elevated twofold compared to levels for 9-month-old Apex(+/+) lacI(+) control mice. These data indicate that diminution of AP endonuclease has a significant effect on spontaneous mutagenesis in somatic and germ line cells.

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