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Nat Immunol. 2003 May;4(5):452-6.

Transcription enhances AID-mediated cytidine deamination by exposing single-stranded DNA on the nontemplate strand.

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Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination are DNA modification reactions that alter the genes encoding antibodies in B lymphocytes. Both of these distinct reactions require activation-induced deaminase (AID) and transcription. Here we show that in Escherichia coli, as in eukaryotic cells, the mutation frequency is directly proportional to the transcription of target genes. Transcription enhances mutation of the nontemplate DNA strand, which is exposed as single-stranded DNA during the elongation reaction, but not mutation of the template DNA strand, which is protected by E. coli RNA polymerase. Our results establish a direct link between AID and transcription and suggest that the role of transcription in facilitating mutation is to provide AID with access to single-stranded DNA.

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