Genome-wide mapping of regions preferentially targeted by the human DNA-cytosine deaminase APOBEC3A using uracil-DNA pulldown and sequencing

J Biol Chem. 2019 Oct 11;294(41):15037-15051. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.008053. Epub 2019 Aug 19.


Activation-induced deaminase (AID) and apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic subunit (APOBEC) enzymes convert cytosines to uracils, creating signature mutations that have been used to predict sites targeted by these enzymes. Mutation-based targeting maps are distorted by the error-prone or error-free repair of these uracils and by selection pressures. To directly map uracils created by AID/APOBEC enzymes, here we used uracil-DNA glycosylase and an alkoxyamine to covalently tag and sequence uracil-containing DNA fragments (UPD-Seq). We applied this technique to the genome of repair-defective, APOBEC3A-expressing bacterial cells and created a uracilation genome map, i.e. uracilome. The peak uracilated regions were in the 5'-ends of genes and operons mainly containing tRNA genes and a few protein-coding genes. We validated these findings through deep sequencing of pulldown regions and whole-genome sequencing of independent clones. The peaks were not correlated with high transcription rates or stable RNA:DNA hybrid formation. We defined the uracilation index (UI) as the frequency of occurrence of TT in UPD-Seq reads at different original TC dinucleotides. Genome-wide UI calculation confirmed that APOBEC3A modifies cytosines in the lagging-strand template during replication and in short hairpin loops. APOBEC3A's preference for tRNA genes was observed previously in yeast, and an analysis of human tumor sequences revealed that in tumors with a high percentage of APOBEC3 signature mutations, the frequency of tRNA gene mutations was much higher than in the rest of the genome. These results identify multiple causes underlying selection of cytosines by APOBEC3A for deamination, and demonstrate the utility of UPD-Seq.

Keywords: AID/APOBEC; ChIP-sequencing (ChIP-seq); DNA repair; DNA sequencing; UPD-Seq; base excision repair (BER); cytosine deaminase; mutagenesis; uracilome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Cytidine Deaminase / metabolism*
  • Cytosine / metabolism
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Uracil / metabolism*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Proteins
  • Uracil
  • Cytosine
  • APOBEC3A protein, human
  • Cytidine Deaminase