Formation of thymine containing dimers in skin exposed to ultraviolet radiation

Bull Cancer. 1978;65(3):283-97.


Nuclear DNA appears to be the major molecular target for the inhibitory, mutagenic and lethal effects of ultraviolet radiation on cells in culture. Cyclobutyl dimers between adjacent pyrimidine bases, the major photochemical lesions for these effects in prokaryotes, also play a part in UVR effects on eukaryote cells. Pyrimidine dimers have been isolated from in vivo UV-irradiated guinea pig and mouse skin. The wavelength dependence for dimer induction is similar to that for acute skin reactions but no direct causal relationship has been established. Sunlight UVA may induce dimers in skin DNA. Excision of dimers from mouse skin in vivo is deficient as it is for most rodent cells in culture; human cell excision is efficient and the difficulties in interpretation of UV-carcinogenesis results with mice in terms of human skin cancer are therefore, increased.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / radiation effects*
  • DNA Repair
  • DNA Replication / radiation effects
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced
  • Pyrimidine Dimers / biosynthesis*
  • Pyrimidine Dimers / isolation & purification
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Pyrimidine Dimers
  • DNA