The most prevalent DNA lesions induced by UVB are the cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) and the pyrimidine (6-4) pyrimidone photoproducts ((6-4)PPs). It has been a long standing controversy as to which of these photoproduct is responsible for mutations in mammalian cells. Here we have introduced photoproduct-specific DNA photolyases into a mouse cell line carrying the transgenic mutation reporter genes lacI and cII. Exposure of the photolyase-expressing cell lines to photoreactivating light resulted in almost complete repair of either CPDs or (6-4)PPs within less than 3 h. The mutations produced by the remaining, nonrepaired photoproducts were scored. The mutant frequency in the cII gene after photoreactivation by CPD photolyase was reduced from 127 × 10-5 to 34 × 10-5 (background, 8-10 × 10-5). Photoreactivation with (6-4) photolyase did not lower the mutant frequency appreciably. In the lacI gene the mutant frequency after photoreactivation repair of CPDs was reduced from 148 × 10 -5 to 28 × 10-5 (background, 6-10 × 10 -5). Mutation spectra obtained with and without photoreactivation by CPD photolyase indicated that the remaining mutations were derived from background mutations, unrepaired CPDs, and other DNA photopoducts including perhaps a small contribution from (6-4)PPs. We conclude that CPDs are responsible for at least 80% of the UVB-induced mutations in this mammalian cell model.
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