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Mutat Res. 1998 May 25;400(1-2):99-115.

Mutagenicity and repair of oxidative DNA damage: insights from studies using defined lesions.

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Division of Toxicology and Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Oxidative DNA damage has been implicated in mutagenesis, carcinogenesis and aging. Endogenous cellular processes such as aerobic metabolism generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) that interact with DNA to form dozens of DNA lesions. If unrepaired, these lesions can exert a number of deleterious effects including the induction of mutations. In an effort to understand the genetic consequences of cellular oxidative damage, many laboratories have determined the patterns of mutations generated by the interaction of ROS with DNA. Compilation of these mutational spectra has revealed that GC-->AT transitions and GC-->TA transversions are the most commonly observed mutations resulting from oxidative damage to DNA. Since mutational spectra convey only the end result of a complex cascade of events, which includes formation of multiple adducts, repair processing, and polymerase errors, it is difficult if not impossible to assess the mutational specificity of individual DNA lesions directly from these spectra. This problem is especially complicated in the case of oxidative DNA damage owing to the multiplicity of lesions formed by a single damaging agent. The task of assigning specific features of mutational spectra to individual DNA lesions has been made possible with the advent of a technology to analyze the mutational properties of single defined adducts, in vitro and in vivo. At the same time, parallel progress in the discovery and cloning of repair enzymes has advanced understanding of the biochemical mechanisms by which cells excise DNA damage. This combination of tools has brought our understanding of DNA lesions to a new level of sophistication. In this review, we summarize the known properties of individual oxidative lesions in terms of their structure, mutagenicity and repairability.

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