During somatic hypermutation (SHM) of immunoglobulin genes, uracils introduced by activation-induced cytidine deaminase are processed by uracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG) and mismatch repair (MMR) pathways to generate mutations at G-C and A-T base pairs, respectively. Paradoxically, the MMR-nicking complex Pms2/Mlh1 is apparently dispensable for A-T mutagenesis. Thus, how detection of U:G mismatches is translated into the single-strand nick required for error-prone synthesis is an open question. One model proposed that UNG could cooperate with MMR by excising a second uracil in the vicinity of the U:G mismatch, but it failed to explain the low impact of UNG inactivation on A-T mutagenesis. In this study, we show that uracils generated in the G1 phase in B cells can generate equal proportions of A-T and G-C mutations, which suggests that UNG and MMR can operate within the same time frame during SHM. Furthermore, we show that Ung−/−Pms2−/− mice display a 50% reduction in mutations at A-T base pairs and that most remaining mutations at A-T bases depend on two additional uracil glycosylases, thymine-DNA glycosylase and SMUG1. These results demonstrate that Pms2/Mlh1 and multiple uracil glycosylases act jointly, each one with a distinct strand bias, to enlarge the immunoglobulin gene mutation spectrum from G-C to A-T bases.
- Submitted: 20 September 2016
- Revision received 19 December 2016
- Accepted: 26 January 2017
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