Importance of DNA repair in carcinogenesis: evidence from transgenic and gene targeting studies

Mutat Res. 2001 Jun 2;477(1-2):41-9. doi: 10.1016/s0027-5107(01)00094-x.


We have generated transgenic mice by introducing copies of the E. coli O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase gene, ada. Liver extracts from homozygotes demonstrate about three times the control enzyme activity and increase up to about eight-fold can be induced by treatment with zinc, since the metal-responsive metallothionein promoter is attached to the ada gene. Furthermore, studies of liver carcinogenesis in our transgenic mice demonstrated significantly reduced rates of development of hepatocellular tumors after treatment with dimethylnitrosamine or diethylnitrosamine. It is well known that xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) patients are deficient in DNA repair. The availability of XPA (XP group A complementing) knockout mice has enabled us to investigate the functional role of the XPA nucleotide excision repair gene in carcinogenesis in vivo, first using the mouse skin as a model system. XPA-/- mice demonstrated skin ulcers 5-7 days after 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) treatment and papilloma development within 4 weeks prior to promotion, skin tumor incidence being also much higher than in heterozygous and wild-type mice. Experiments targeting the lung, liver and tongue have also been conducted to answer the question of whether the internal organs of these mice are also susceptible to chemical carcinogens. For lung carcinogenesis, mice were instilled intratracheally with a small dose of benzo[a]pyrene. The pulmonary tumor incidence in XPA-/- mice was significantly higher than in XPA+/- and XPA+/+ mice. XPA-/- mice were also found to be have enhanced sensitivity to aflatoxin B1 regarding liver tumor induction. In addition, administration of 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide in drinking water for 50 weeks resulted in tongue tumors only in XPA-/- mice. These studies, thus, provided convincing evidence that XPA mice are also sensitive to carcinogenesis in organs other than the skin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / chemically induced
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • DNA Repair*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Targeting
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • O(6)-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum / genetics


  • O(6)-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase