Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Molecular and Cellular Biology


Geisel School of Medicine


Interstrand cross-links (ICLs) make up a unique class of DNA lesions in which both strands of the double helix are covalently joined, precluding strand opening during replication and transcription. The repair of DNA ICLs has become a focus of study since ICLs are recognized as the main cytotoxic lesion inflicted by an array of alkylating compounds used in cancer treatment. As is the case for double-strand breaks, a damage-free homologous copy is essential for the removal of ICLs in an error-free manner. However, recombination-independent mechanisms may exist to remove ICLs in an error-prone fashion. We have developed an in vivo reactivation assay that can be used to examine the removal of site-specific mitomycin C-mediated ICLs in mammalian cells. We found that the removal of the ICL from the reporter substrate could take place in the absence of undamaged homologous sequences in repair-proficient cells, suggesting a cross-link repair mechanism that is independent of homologous recombination. Systematic analysis of nucleotide excision repair mutants demonstrated the involvement of transcription-coupled nucleotide excision repair and a partial requirement for the lesion bypass DNA polymerase eta encoded by the human POLH gene. From these observations, we propose the existence of a recombination-independent and mutagenic repair pathway for the removal of ICLs in mammalian cells.



Original Citation

Zheng H, Wang X, Warren AJ, Legerski RJ, Nairn RS, Hamilton JW, Li L. Nucleotide excision repair- and polymerase eta-mediated error-prone removal of mitomycin C interstrand cross-links. Mol Cell Biol. 2003 Jan;23(2):754-61. doi: 10.1128/mcb.23.2.754-761.2003. PMID: 12509472; PMCID: PMC151552.