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J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Nov;117(5):1234-40.

The DNA damage signal for Mdm2 regulation, Trp53 induction, and sunburn cell formation in vivo originates from actively transcribed genes.

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Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conneticut 06520-8040, USA.


The stratum corneum and DNA repair do not completely protect keratinocytes from ultraviolet B. A third defense prevents cells with DNA photoproducts from becoming precancerous mutant cells: apoptosis of ultraviolet-damaged keratinocytes ("sunburn cells"). As signals for ultraviolet-induced apoptosis, some studies implicate DNA photoproducts in actively transcribed genes; other studies implicate non-nuclear signals. We traced and quantitated the in vivo DNA signal through several steps in the apoptosis-signaling pathway in haired mice. Homozygous inactivation of Xpa, Csb, or Xpc nucleotide excision repair genes directed the accumulation of DNA photoproducts to specific genome regions. Repair-defective Xpa-/- mice were 7-10-fold more sensitive to sunburn cell induction than wild-type mice, indicating that 86-90% of the ultraviolet B signal for keratinocyte apoptosis involved repairable photoproducts in DNA; the remainder involves unrepaired DNA lesions or nongenomic targets. Csb-/- mice, defective only in excising photoproducts from actively transcribed genes, were as sensitive as Xpa-/-, indicating that virtually all of the DNA signal originates from photoproducts in active genes. Conversely, Xpc-/- mice, defective in repairing the untranscribed majority of the genome, were as resistant to apoptosis as wild type. Sunburn cell formation requires the Trp53 tumor suppressor protein; 90-96% of the signal for its induction in vivo involved transcribed genes. Mdm2, which regulates the stability of Trp53 through degradation, was induced in vivo by low ultraviolet B doses but was suppressed at erythemal doses. DNA photoproducts in actively transcribed genes were involved in approximately 89% of the Mdm2 response.

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