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J Biol Chem. 2001 May 11;276(19):16501-10. Epub 2001 Jan 29.

Oxidation of thymine to 5-formyluracil in DNA promotes misincorporation of dGMP and subsequent elongation of a mismatched primer terminus by DNA polymerase.

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Department of Mathematical and Life Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima 739-8526, Japan.


5-Formyluracil (fU) is a major oxidative thymine lesion generated by ionizing radiation and reactive oxygen species. In the present study, we have assessed the influence of fU on DNA replication to elucidate its genotoxic potential. Oligonucleotide templates containing fU at defined sites were replicated in vitro by Escherichia coli DNA polymerase I Klenow fragment deficient in 3'-5'-exonuclease. Gel electrophoretic analysis of the reaction products showed that fU constituted very weak replication blocks to DNA synthesis, suggesting a weak to negligible cytotoxic effect of this lesion. However, primer extension assays with a single dNTP revealed that fU directed incorporation of not only correct dAMP but also incorrect dGMP, although much less efficiently. No incorporation of dCMP and dTMP was observed. When fU was substituted for T in templates, the incorporation efficiency of dAMP (f(A) = V(max)/K(m)) decreased to (1/4) to (1/2), depending on the nearest neighbor base pair, and that of dGMP (f(G)) increased 1.1-5.6-fold. Thus, the increase in the replication error frequency (f(G)/f(A) for fU versus T) was 3.1-14.3-fold. The misincorporation rate of dGMP opposite fU (pK(a) = 8.6) but not T (pK(a) = 10.0) increased with pH (7.2-8.6) of the reaction mixture, indicating the participation of the ionized (or enolate) form of fU in the mispairing with G. The resulting mismatched fU:G primer terminus was more efficiently extended than the T:G terminus (8.2-11.3-fold). These results show that when T is oxidized to fU in DNA, fU promotes both misincorporation of dGMP at this site and subsequent elongation of the mismatched primer, hence potentially mutagenic.

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