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Thymine DNA glycosylase.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Radiobiology, University of Zürich, Paul Scherrer Institute, August-Forel Strasse 7, CH-8008 Zürich, Switzerland.


More than 50% of colon cancer-associated mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene are C-->T transitions. The majority of them locate in CpG dinucleotides and are thought to have arisen through spontaneous hydrolytic deamination of 5-methylcytosine. This deamination process gives rise to G.T mispairs that need to be repaired to G.C in order to avoid C-->T mutation. Similarly, deamination of cytosine generates G.U mispairs that also produce C-->T transitions if not repaired. Restoration of both G.T and G.U mismatches was shown to be mediated by a short-patch excision repair pathway, and one principal player implicated in this process may be thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG). Human TDG was discovered as an enzyme that has the potential to specifically remove thymine and uracil bases mispaired with guanine through hydrolysis of their N-glycosidic bond, thereby generating abasic sites in DNA and initiating a base excision repair reaction. The same protein was later found to interact physically and functionally with the retinoid receptors RAR and RXR, and this implicated an unexpected function of TDG in nuclear receptor-mediated transcriptional activation of gene expression. The objective of this chapter is to put together the results of different lines of experimentation that have explored the thymine DNA glycosylase since its discovery and to critically evaluate their implications for possible physiological roles of this enzyme.

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