DNA/RNA hybrid substrates modulate the catalytic activity of purified AID

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Abstract

Activation–induced cytidine deaminase (AID) converts cytidine to uridine at Immunoglobulin (Ig) loci, initiating somatic hypermutation and class switching of antibodies. In vitro, AID acts on single stranded DNA (ssDNA), but neither double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) oligonucleotides nor RNA, and it is believed that transcription is the in vivo generator of ssDNA targeted by AID. It is also known that the Ig loci, particularly the switch (S) regions targeted by AID are rich in transcription-generated DNA/RNA hybrids. Here, we examined the binding and catalytic behavior of purified AID on DNA/RNA hybrid substrates bearing either random sequences or GC-rich sequences simulating Ig S regions. If substrates were made up of a random sequence, AID preferred substrates composed entirely of DNA over DNA/RNA hybrids. In contrast, if substrates were composed of S region sequences, AID preferred to mutate DNA/RNA hybrids over substrates composed entirely of DNA. Accordingly, AID exhibited a significantly higher affinity for binding DNA/RNA hybrid substrates composed specifically of S region sequences, than any other substrates composed of DNA. Thus, in the absence of any other cellular processes or factors, AID itself favors binding and mutating DNA/RNA hybrids composed of S region sequences. AID:DNA/RNA complex formation and supporting mutational analyses suggest that recognition of DNA/RNA hybrids is an inherent structural property of AID.

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