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Azathioprine and UVA Light Generate Mutagenic Oxidative DNA Damage

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Science  16 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5742, pp. 1871-1874
DOI: 10.1126/science.1114233

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Abstract

Oxidative stress and mutagenic DNA lesions formed by reactive oxygen species (ROS) are linked to human malignancy. Clinical treatments inducing chronic oxidative stress may therefore carry a risk of therapy-related cancer. We suggest that immunosuppression by azathioprine (Aza) may be one such treatment. Aza causes the accumulation of 6-thioguanine (6-TG) in patients' DNA. Here we demonstrate that biologically relevant doses of ultraviolet A (UVA) generate ROS in cultured cells with 6-TG–substituted DNA and that 6-TG and UVA are synergistically mutagenic. A replication-blocking DNA 6-TG photoproduct, guanine sulfonate, was bypassed by error-prone, Y-family DNA polymerases in vitro. A preliminary analysis revealed that in five of five cases, Aza treatment was associated with a selective UVA photosensitivity. These findings may partly explain the prevalence of skin cancer in long-term survivors of organ transplantation.

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