The alphabet of modified DNA bases goes beyond the conventional four letters, with biological roles being found for many such modifications. Herein, we describe the observation of a modified thymine base that arises from spontaneous N1 -C2 ring opening of the oxidation product 5-formyl uracil, after N3 deprotonation. We first observed this phenomenon in silico through ab initio calculations, followed by in vitro experiments to verify its formation at a mononucleoside level and in a synthetic DNA oligonucleotide context. We show that the new base modification (Trex , thymine ring expunged) can form under physiological conditions, and is resistant to the action of common repair machineries. Furthermore, we found cases of the natural existence of Trex while screening a number of human cell types and mESC (E14), thus suggesting potential biological relevance of this modification.
Keywords: base modification; nucleic acids; oxidative damage; repair resistance; ring opening; thymine.
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