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Tandem lesions are comprised of two contiguously damaged nucleotides. Tandem lesions make up the major family of reaction products generated from a pyrimidine nucleobase radical, which are formed in large amounts by ionizing radiation. One of these tandem lesions contains a thymidine glycol lesion flanked on its 5'-side by 2-deoxyribonolactone (LTg). The replication of this tandem lesion was investigated in Escherichia coli using single-stranded genomes. LTg is a much more potent replication block than thymidine glycol and is bypassed only under SOS-induced conditions. The adjacent thymidine glycol does not significantly affect nucleotide incorporation opposite 2-deoxyribonolactone in wild-type cells. In contrast, the misinsertion frequency opposite thymidine glycol, which is negligible in the absence of 2-deoxyribonolactone, increases to 10% in wild-type cells when LTg is flanked by a 3'-dG. Experiments in which the flanking nucleotides are varied and in cells lacking one of the SOS-induced bypass polymerases indicate that the mutations are due to a mechanism in which the primer misaligns prior to bypassing the lesion, which allows for an additional nucleotide to be incorporated across from the 3'-flanking nucleotide. Subsequent realignment and extension results in the observed mutations. DNA polymerases II and IV are responsible for misalignment induced mutations and compete with DNA polymerase V which reads through the tandem lesion. These experiments reveal that incorporation of the thymidine glycol into a tandem lesion indirectly induces increases in mutations by blocking replication, which enables the misalignment-realignment mechanism to compete with direct bypass by DNA polymerase V.


Haidong Huang, Shuhei Imoto, Marc M Greenberg. The mutagenicity of thymidine glycol in Escherichia coli is increased when it is part of a tandem lesion. Biochemistry. 2009 Aug 25;48(33):7833-41

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PMID: 19618962

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