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Hum Mol Genet. 2007 Nov 15;16(22):2729-39. Epub 2007 Aug 27.

The DNA polymerase gamma Y955C disease variant associated with PEO and parkinsonism mediates the incorporation and translesion synthesis opposite 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine.

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Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


Mitochondrial DNA is replicated and repaired by DNA polymerase gamma (pol gamma), encoded by the POLG gene. The Y955C substitution in POLG leads to autosomal dominant progressive external ophthalmoplegia (PEO) with other severe phenotypes. PEO patients with this mutation can further develop parkinsonism or premature ovarian failure. Mouse and yeast models with this mutation show enhanced amounts of oxidative lesions and increased mtDNA damage. In DNA pol gamma, Tyr955 plays a critical role in catalysis and high fidelity DNA synthesis. 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dG) is one of the most common oxidative lesions in DNA and can promote transversion mutations. Mitochondria are thought to be a major source of endogenous reactive oxygen species that can react with dG to form 8-oxo-dG as one of the more common products. DNA polymerases can mitigate mutagenesis by 8-oxo-dG through allosteric interactions from amino acid side chains, which limit the anti-conformation of the 8-oxo-dG template base during translesion DNA synthesis. Here, we show that the Y955C pol gamma displays relaxed discrimination when either incorporating 8-oxo-dGTP or translesion synthesis opposite 8-oxo-dG. Molecular modeling and biochemical analysis suggest that this residue, Tyr955, in conjunction with Phe961 helps attenuate the anti-conformation in human pol gamma for error free bypass of 8-oxo-dG and substitution to Cys allows the mutagenic syn conformation. Collectively, these results offer a biochemical link between the observed oxidative stress in model systems and parkinsonism in patients, suggesting that patients harboring the Y955C POLG mutation may undergo enhanced oxidative stress and DNA mutagenesis.

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