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Bioessays. 1999 Aug;21(8):668-76.

3-methyladenine DNA glycosylases: structure, function, and biological importance.

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Department of Cancer Cell Biology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The genome continuously suffers damage due to its reactivity with chemical and physical agents. Finding such damage in genomes (that can be several million to several billion nucleotide base pairs in size) is a seemingly daunting task. 3-Methyladenine DNA glycosylases can initiate the base excision repair (BER) of an extraordinarily wide range of substrate bases. The advantage of such broad substrate recognition is that these enzymes provide resistance to a wide variety of DNA damaging agents; however, under certain circumstances, the eclectic nature of these enzymes can confer some biological disadvantages. Solving the X-ray crystal structures of two 3-methyladenine DNA glycosylases, and creating cells and animals altered for this activity, contributes to our understanding of their enzyme mechanism and how such enzymes influence the biological response of organisms to several different types of DNA damage.

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