Nucleotide excision repair is impaired by binding of transcription factors to DNA

Nature. 2016 Apr 14;532(7598):264-7. doi: 10.1038/nature17661.


Somatic mutations are the driving force of cancer genome evolution. The rate of somatic mutations appears to be greatly variable across the genome due to variations in chromatin organization, DNA accessibility and replication timing. However, other variables that may influence the mutation rate locally are unknown, such as a role for DNA-binding proteins, for example. Here we demonstrate that the rate of somatic mutations in melanomas is highly increased at active transcription factor binding sites and nucleosome embedded DNA, compared to their flanking regions. Using recently available excision-repair sequencing (XR-seq) data, we show that the higher mutation rate at these sites is caused by a decrease of the levels of nucleotide excision repair (NER) activity. Our work demonstrates that DNA-bound proteins interfere with the NER machinery, which results in an increased rate of DNA mutations at the protein binding sites. This finding has important implications for our understanding of mutational and DNA repair processes and in the identification of cancer driver mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • DNA, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Genome, Human / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Mutagenesis / genetics*
  • Mutation Rate*
  • Nucleosomes / genetics
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Protein Binding
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nucleosomes
  • Transcription Factors
  • DNA