The cyclopurine deoxynucleosides: DNA repair, biological effects, mechanistic insights, and unanswered questions

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Patients with the genetic disease xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) who lack the capacity to carry out nucleotides excision repair (NER) have a dramatically elevated risk of skin cancer on sun exposed areas of the body. NER is the DNA repair mechanism responsible for the removal of DNA lesions resulting from ultraviolet light. In addition, a subset of XP patients develop a progressive neurodegenerative disease, referred to as XP neurologic disease, which is thought to be the result of accumulation of endogenous DNA lesions that are repaired by NER but not other repair pathways. The 8,5-cyclopurine deoxynucleotides (cyPu) have emerged as leading candidates for such lesions, in that they result from the reaction of the hydroxyl radical with DNA, are strong blocks to transcription in human cells, and are repaired by NER but not base excision repair. Here I present a focused perspective on progress into understating the repair and biological effects of these lesions. In doing so, I emphasize the role of Tomas Lindahl and his laboratory in stimulating cyPu research. I also include a critical evaluation of the evidence supporting a role for cyPu lesions in XP neurologic disease, with a focus on outstanding questions, and conceptual and technologic challenges.

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