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Mol Cell Biol. 1998 Mar;18(3):1660-9.

Implication of localization of human DNA repair enzyme O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase at active transcription sites in transcription-repair coupling of the mutagenic O6-methylguanine lesion.

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Chemical Carcinogenesis Laboratory, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, National University of Singapore, Republic of Singapore.


DNA lesions that halt RNA polymerase during transcription are preferentially repaired by the nucleotide excision repair pathway. This transcription-coupled repair is initiated by the arrested RNA polymerase at the DNA lesion. However, the mutagenic O6-methylguanine (6MG) lesion which is bypassed by RNA polymerase is also preferentially repaired at the transcriptionally active DNA. We report here a plausible explanation for this observation: the human 6MG repair enzyme O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) is present as speckles concentrated at active transcription sites (as revealed by polyclonal antibodies specific for its N and C termini). Upon treatment of cells with low dosages of N-methylnitrosourea, which produces 6MG lesions in the DNA, these speckles rapidly disappear, accompanied by the formation of active-site methylated MGMT (the repair product of 6MG by MGMT). The ability of MGMT to target itself to active transcription sites, thus providing an effective means of repairing 6MG lesions, possibly at transcriptionally active DNA, indicates its crucial role in human cancer and chemotherapy by alkylating agents.

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