Mechanisms of glycosylase induced genomic instability

PLoS One. 2017 Mar 23;12(3):e0174041. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174041. eCollection 2017.


Human alkyladenine DNA glycosylase (AAG) initiates base excision repair (BER) to guard against mutations by excising alkylated and deaminated purines. Counterintuitively, increased expression of AAG has been implicated in increased rates of spontaneous mutation in microsatellite repeats. This microsatellite mutator phenotype is consistent with a model in which AAG excises bulged (unpaired) bases, altering repeat length. To directly test the role of base excision in AAG-induced mutagenesis, we conducted mutation accumulation experiments in yeast overexpressing different variants of AAG and detected mutations via high-depth genome resequencing. We also developed a new software tool, hp_caller, to perform accurate genotyping at homopolymeric repeat loci. Overexpression of wild-type AAG elevated indel mutations in homopolymeric sequences distributed throughout the genome. However, catalytically inactive variants (E125Q/E125A) caused equal or greater increases in frameshift mutations. These results disprove the hypothesis that base excision is the key step in mutagenesis by overexpressed wild-type AAG. Instead, our results provide additional support for the previously published model wherein overexpressed AAG interferes with the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway. In addition to the above results, we observed a dramatic mutator phenotype for N169S AAG, which has increased rates of excision of undamaged purines. This mutant caused a 10-fold increase in point mutations at G:C base pairs and a 50-fold increase in frameshifts in A:T homopolymers. These results demonstrate that it is necessary to consider the relative activities and abundance of many DNA replication and repair proteins when considering mutator phenotypes, as they are relevant to the development of cancer and its resistance to treatment.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Copy Number Variations / genetics
  • DNA Glycosylases / metabolism*
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • Frameshift Mutation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Mutagenesis / genetics
  • Mutation Accumulation*
  • Point Mutation / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics


  • DNA Glycosylases