Increased somatic recombination in methylation tolerant human cells with defective DNA mismatch repair

J Mol Biol. 1998 Mar 6;276(4):705-19. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1997.1559.


We have studied whether spontaneous intrachromosomal recombination is altered in methylation tolerant human cells with a defect in mismatch repair. Somatic recombination was analysed in HeLaMR cells containing the vector pTPSN, which carries two copies of the gene for hygromycin resistance. The hygromycin genes are both inactivated by an inserted HindIII linker but hygromycin-resistant clones can arise by recombination. The spontaneous rate of recombination in a clone of HeLaMR cells containing a single integrated copy of pTPSN (HeLaG1) was 3.1x10(-6)/cell per generation. Two methylation tolerant variants from HeLaG1 cells (clone 12 and clone 15) were isolated by exposure to MNNG. Clone 12 cells exhibited a 16-fold increase in spontaneous mutation rate at the HPRT gene and extensive microsatellite instability at both mono- and dinucleotide repeats. Microsatellite instability limited to mononucleotide repeats was found in clone 15, whereas the mutation rate at HPRT was not significantly affected. A mismatch binding defect in extracts of clone 15 could be complemented by exogenous GTBP but not by purified hMSH2 protein. These data suggest that clone 15 is defective in GTBP. Extracts of clone 12 were unable to correct a single C:T mispair and complementation by extracts of human colorectal carcinoma cells with known deficiencies in mismatch repair indicated a defect in hMutLalpha. Western blotting with antibodies against different human mismatch repair proteins showed that clone 12 cells did not express hPMS2 protein, but expression of hMLH1, hMSH2 and GTBP appeared normal. The spontaneous recombination rate of clone 12 was 19-fold higher than the parental HeLaG1 cells, whereas no increase was observed in clone 15. Analysis of individual recombinants showed that hygromycin resistance arose exclusively by gene conversion. Our data indicate that mismatch correction regulates somatic recombination in human cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cinnamates*
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • DNA Repair / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • Gene Conversion
  • Genetic Vectors
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hygromycin B / analogs & derivatives
  • Hygromycin B / pharmacology
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase / genetics
  • Methylnitronitrosoguanidine
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Mutation
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Transfection


  • Cinnamates
  • DNA Primers
  • Methylnitronitrosoguanidine
  • Hygromycin B
  • hygromycin A
  • DNA
  • Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase