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Localized clustering of damage is a hallmark of certain DNA-damaging agents, particularly ionizing radiation. The potential for genetic change arising from the effects of clustered damage sites containing combinations of AP sites, 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine (8-oxoG) or 5,6-dihydrothymine is high. To date clusters containing a DNA base lesion that is a strong block to replicative polymerases, have not been explored. Since thymine glycol (Tg) is non-mutagenic but a strong block to replicative polymerases, we have investigated whether clusters containing Tg are highly mutagenic or lead to potentially cytotoxic lesions, when closely opposed to either 8-oxoG or an AP site. Using a bacterial plasmid-based assay and repair assays using cell extracts or purified proteins, we have shown that DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) arise when Tg is opposite to an AP site, either through attempted base excision repair or at replication. In contrast, 8-oxoG opposite to Tg in a cluster 'protects' against DSB formation but does enhance the mutation frequency at the site of 8-oxoG relative to that at a single 8-oxoG, due to the decisive role of endonucleases in the initial stages of processing Tg/8-oxoG clusters, removing Tg to give an intermediate with an abasic site or single-strand break.

Original publication




Journal article


Nucleic Acids Res

Publication Date





4430 - 4440


DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded, DNA Breaks, Single-Stranded, DNA Damage, DNA Repair, Deoxyguanosine, Escherichia coli, Mutagenesis, Thymine, Transformation, Bacterial, Uracil