A rapid, safe, and quantitative in vitro assay for measurement of uracil-DNA glycosylase activity


Tiziana Squillaro, Mauro Finicelli, Nicola Alessio, Stefania Del Gaudio, Giovanni Di Bernardo, Mariarosa Anna Beatrice Melone, Gianfranco Peluso, Umberto Galderisi

Abstract: Base excision repair (BER) is a frontline repair mechanism that operates through the G1 phase of the cell cycle, which ensures the genome integrity by repairing thousands of DNA lesions due to endogenous and exogenous agents. Its correct functioning is fundamental for cell viability and the health of the organism. Uracil is one of the most prevalent lesions that appears in DNA arising by spontaneous or enzymatic deamination of cytosine or misincorporation of the deoxyuridine 5′-triphosphate nucleotide (dUTP) in place of deoxythymidine 5′-triphosphate (dTTP) during DNA replication. In the first pathway, the uracil will preferentially pair with adenine, leading to C:G → T:A transition. When uracil in DNA arises from misincorporation of dUTP instead of dTTP, this process will result in A:U pairs. Organisms counteract the mutagenic effects of uracil in DNA using the BER repair system, which is mediated by a member of the uracil-DNA glycosylase (UDG) superfamily. Several assays evaluating the in vitro BER enzyme activity have been described so far. Some of these measure the BER activity by an oligonucleotide incision assay using radiolabeled duplex oligo. Others use circular double-stranded DNA substrates containing a defined lesion. The novelty of our method resides in its rapidity and safety (radioactive free detection) as well as in the possibility of having a reliable quantitative determination of UDG activity in both cell and tissue extracts. We also demonstrated the effectiveness of our method in assessing UDG activity in cell lines with a reduced DNA repair capacity and in different kinds of tissues.