Role of Postreplicative DNA Mismatch Repair in the Cytotoxic Action of Thioguanine

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Science  23 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5278, pp. 1109-1111
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5278.1109


It is proposed here that the delayed cytotoxicity of thioguanine involves the postreplicative DNA mismatch repair system. After incorporation into DNA, the thioguanine is chemically methylated by S-adenosylmethionine to form S6-methylthioguanine. During DNA replication, the S6-methylthioguanine directs incorporation of either thymine or cytosine into the growing DNA strand, and the resultant S6-methylthioguanine-thymine pairs are recognized by the postreplicative mismatch repair system. Azathioprine, an immunosuppressant used in organ transplantation, is partly converted to thioguanine. Because the carcinogenicity of N-nitrosamines depends on formation of O6-alkylguanine in DNA, the formation of the analog S6-methylthioguanine during azathioprine treatment may partly explain the high incidence of cancer after transplantation.