Viruses with U-DNA: New Avenues for Biotechnology

Viruses. 2021 May 10;13(5):875. doi: 10.3390/v13050875.


Deoxyuridine in DNA has recently been in the focus of research due to its intriguing roles in several physiological and pathophysiological situations. Although not an orthodox DNA base, uracil may appear in DNA via either cytosine deamination or thymine-replacing incorporations. Since these alterations may induce mutation or may perturb DNA-protein interactions, free living organisms from bacteria to human contain several pathways to counteract uracilation. These efficient and highly specific repair routes uracil-directed excision repair initiated by representative of uracil-DNA glycosylase families. Interestingly, some bacteriophages exist with thymine-lacking uracil-DNA genome. A detailed understanding of the strategy by which such phages can replicate in bacteria where an efficient repair pathway functions for uracil-excision from DNA is expected to reveal novel inhibitors that can also be used for biotechnological applications. Here, we also review the several potential biotechnological applications already implemented based on inhibitors of uracil-excision repair, such as Crispr-base-editing and detection of nascent uracil distribution pattern in complex genomes.

Keywords: biotechnology; phages; uracil-DNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / drug effects
  • Bacteriophages / genetics
  • Bacteriophages / metabolism
  • Biotechnology
  • DNA, Viral / chemistry*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics*
  • DNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Drug Development
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nucleic Acids / chemistry
  • Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Uracil* / chemistry
  • Uracil-DNA Glycosidase / chemistry
  • Uracil-DNA Glycosidase / metabolism
  • Viruses / drug effects
  • Viruses / genetics*
  • Viruses / metabolism


  • DNA, Viral
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Uracil
  • Uracil-DNA Glycosidase