1984, Ph.D. in Chemical Physics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
1979, B.S. in Chemistry, Royal Holloway College, London University
The DNA base excision repair (BER) glycosylase MUTYH prevents DNA mutations by catalyzing adenine (A) excision from inappropriately formed 8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG):A mismatches. The importance of this mutation suppression activity in tumor suppressor genes is underscored by the association of inherited variants of MUTYH with colorectal polyposis in a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome known as MUTYH-associated polyposis, or MAP. Many of the MAP variants encompass amino acid changes that occur at positions surrounding the two-metal cofactor-binding sites of MUTYH. One of these cofactors, found in nearly all MUTYH orthologs, is a [4Fe–4S]2+cluster coordinated by four Cys residues located in the N-terminal catalytic domain. We recently uncovered a second functionally relevant metal cofactor site present only in higher eukaryotic MUTYH orthologs: a Zn2+ ion coordinated by three Cys residues located within the extended interdomain connector (IDC) region of MUTYH that connects the N-terminal adenine excision and C-terminal 8-oxoG recognition domains. In this work, we identified a candidate for the fourth Zn2+coordinating ligand using a combination of bioinformatics and computational modeling. In addition, using in vitro enzyme activity assays, fluorescence polarization DNA binding assays, circular dichroism spectroscopy, and cell-based rifampicin resistance assays, the functional impact of reduced Zn2+ chelation was evaluated. Taken together, these results illustrate the critical role that the “Zn2+ linchpin motif” plays in MUTYH repair activity by providing for proper engagement of the functional domains on the 8-oxoG:A mismatch required for base excision catalysis. The functional importance of the Zn2+ linchpin also suggests that adjacent MAP variants or exposure to environmental chemicals may compromise Zn2+ coordination, and ability of MUTYH to prevent disease.