Mutations detected in the p53 gene in human nonmelanoma skin cancers show a highly UV-specific mutation pattern, a dominance of C→T base substitutions at dipyrimidine sites plus frequent CC→TT tandem substitutions, indicating a major involvement of solar UV in the skin carcinogenesis. These mutations also have another important characteristic of frequent occurrences at CpG dinucleotide sites, some of which actually show prominent hotspots in the p53 gene. Although mammalian solar UV-induced mutation spectra were studied intensively in the aprt gene using rodent cultured cells and the UV-specific mutation pattern was confirmed, the second characteristic of the p53 mutations in human skin cancers had not been reproduced. However, studies with transgenic mouse systems developed thereafter for mutation research, which harbor methyl CpG-abundant transgenes as mutation markers, yielded complete reproductions of the situation of the human skin cancer mutations in terms of both the UV-specific pattern and the frequent occurrence at CpG sites. In this review, we evaluate the significance of the CpG methylation for solar UV mutagenesis in the mammalian genome, which would lead to skin carcinogenesis. We propose that the UV-specific mutations at methylated CpG sites, C→T transitions at methyl CpG-associated dipyrimidine sites, are a solar UV-specific mutation signature, and have estimated the wavelength range effective for the solar-UV-specific mutation as 310-340 nm. We also recommend the use of methyl CpG-enriched sequences as mutational targets for studies on solar-UV genotoxicity for human, rather than conventional mammalian mutational marker genes such as the aprt and hprt genes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry