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Mutational signatures are jointly shaped by DNA damage and repair

By NV Volkova, B Meier, V González-Huici, Simone Bertolini, Santiago Gonzalez, Harald Voeringer, Federico Abascal, Inigo Martincorena, Peter J. Campbell, A Gartner, Moritz Gerstung

Posted 28 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/686295 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15912-7)

Mutations arise when DNA lesions escape DNA repair. To delineate the contributions of DNA damage and DNA repair deficiency to mutagenesis we sequenced 2,717 genomes of wild-type and 53 DNA repair defective C. elegans strains propagated through several generations or exposed to 11 genotoxins at multiple doses. Combining genotoxin exposure and DNA repair deficiency alters mutation rates or leads to unexpected mutation spectra in nearly 40% of all experimental conditions involving 9/11 of genotoxins tested and 32/53 genotypes. For 8/11 genotoxins, signatures change in response to more than one DNA repair deficiency, indicating that multiple genes and pathways are involved in repairing DNA lesions induced by one genotoxin. For many genotoxins, the majority of observed single nucleotide variants results from error-prone translesion synthesis, rather than primary mutagenicity of altered nucleotides. Nucleotide excision repair mends the vast majority of genotoxic lesions, preventing up to 99% of mutations. Analogous mutagenic DNA damage-repair interactions can also be found in cancers, but, except for rare cases, effects are weak owing to the unknown histories of genotoxic exposures and DNA repair status. Overall, our data underscore that mutation spectra are joint products of DNA damage and DNA repair and imply that mutational signatures computationally derived from cancer genomes are more variable than currently anticipated.

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