The induction of mutations in mammalian cells exposed to cadmium has been associated with the oxidative stress triggered by the metal. There is increasing evidence that the mutagenic potential of Cd is not restricted to the induction of DNA lesions. Cd has been shown to inactivate several DNA repair enzymes. Here we show that exposure of human cells to sub-lethal concentrations of Cd leads to a time- and concentration-dependent decrease in hOGG1 activity, the major DNA glycosylase activity responsible for the initiation of the base excision repair (BER) of 8-oxoguanine, an abundant and mutagenic form of oxidized guanine. Although there is a slight effect on the level of hOGG1 transcripts, we show that the inhibition of the 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase activity is mainly associated with an oxidation of the hOGG1 protein and its disappearance from the soluble fraction of total cell extracts. Confocal microscopy analyses show that in cells exposed to Cd hOGG1-GFP is recruited to discrete structures in the cytoplasm. These structures were identified as stress granules. Removal of Cd from the medium allows the recovery of the DNA glycosylase activity and the presence of hOGG1 in a soluble form. In contrast to hOGG1, we show here that exposure to Cd does not affect the activity of the second enzyme of the pathway, the major AP endonuclease APE1.
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