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Mutat Res. 2005 Apr 1;571(1-2):221-33. Epub 2005 Jan 25.

Solar ultraviolet radiation-induced DNA damage in aquatic organisms: potential environmental impact.

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Institut für Botanik und Pharmazeutische Biologie, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Staudtstr. 5, D-91058 Erlangen, Germany.


Continuing depletion of stratospheric ozone and subsequent increases in deleterious ultraviolet (UV) radiation at the Earth's surface have fueled the interest in its ecological consequences for aquatic ecosystems. The DNA is certainly one of the key targets for UV-induced damage in a variety of aquatic organisms. UV radiation induces two of the most abundant mutagenic and cytotoxic DNA lesions, cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) and pyrimidine pyrimidone photoproducts (6-4PPs) and their Dewar valence isomers. However, aquatic organisms have developed a number of repair and tolerance mechanisms to counteract the damaging effects of UV on DNA. Photoreactivation with the help of the enzyme photolyase is one of the most important and frequently occurring repair mechanisms in a variety of organisms. Excision repair, which can be distinguished into base excision repair (BER) and nucleotide excision repair (NER), also play an important role in DNA repair in several organisms with the help of a number of glycosylases and polymerases, respectively. In addition, mechanisms such as mutagenic repair or dimer bypass, recombinational repair, cell-cycle checkpoints, apoptosis and certain alternative repair pathways are also operative in various organisms. This review deals with the UV-induced DNA damage and repair in a number of aquatic organisms as well as methods of detecting DNA damage.

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