Efficient processing of TFO-directed psoralen DNA interstrand crosslinks by the UvrABC nuclease

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Photoreactive psoralens can form interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) in double-stranded DNA. In eubacteria, the endonuclease UvrABC plays a key role in processing psoralen ICLs. Psoralen-modified triplex-forming oligonucleotides (TFOs) can be used to direct ICLs to specific genomic sites. Previous studies of pyrimidine-rich methoxypsoralen–modified TFOs indicated that the TFO inhibits cleavage by UvrABC. Because different chemistries may alter the processing of TFO-directed ICLs, we investigated the effect of another type of triplex formed by purine-rich TFOs on the processing of 4′-(hydroxymethyl)-4,5′,8-trimethylpsoralen (HMT) ICLs by the UvrABC nuclease. Using an HMT-modified TFO to direct ICLs to a specific site, we found that UvrABC made incisions on the purine-rich strand of the duplex ∼3 bases from the 3′-side and ∼9 bases from the 5′-side of the ICL, within the TFO-binding region. In contrast to previous reports, the UvrABC nuclease cleaved the TFO-directed psoralen ICL with a greater efficiency than that of the psoralen ICL alone. Furthermore, the TFO was dissociated from its duplex binding site by UvrA and UvrB. As mutagenesis by TFO-directed ICLs requires nucleotide excision repair, the efficient processing of these lesions supports the use of triplex technology to direct DNA damage for genome modification.

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