DNA damage induced by alkylating agents and repair pathways

J Nucleic Acids. 2010 Nov 21;2010:543531. doi: 10.4061/2010/543531.


The cytotoxic effects of alkylating agents are strongly attenuated by cellular DNA repair processes, necessitating a clear understanding of the repair mechanisms. Simple methylating agents form adducts at N- and O-atoms. N-methylations are removed by base excision repair, AlkB homologues, or nucleotide excision repair (NER). O(6)-methylguanine (MeG), which can eventually become cytotoxic and mutagenic, is repaired by O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase, and O(6)MeG:T mispairs are recognized by the mismatch repair system (MMR). MMR cannot repair the O(6)MeG/T mispairs, which eventually lead to double-strand breaks. Bifunctional alkylating agents form interstrand cross-links (ICLs) which are more complex and highly cytotoxic. ICLs are repaired by complex of NER factors (e.g., endnuclease xeroderma pigmentosum complementation group F-excision repair cross-complementing rodent repair deficiency complementation group 1), Fanconi anemia repair, and homologous recombination. A detailed understanding of how cells cope with DNA damage caused by alkylating agents is therefore potentially useful in clinical medicine.