Volume 10 (2014) Pages 63-68
Two mammalian DNA glycosylases, methyl-CpG binding domain protein 4 (MBD4) and thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG), are involved in active DNA demethylation via the base excision repair pathway. Both MBD4 and TDG excise the mismatch base from G:X, where X is uracil, thymine, and 5-hydroxymethyluracil (5hmU). In addition, TDG excises 5mC oxidized bases i.e. when X is 5-formylcytosine (5fC), and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC) not 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). A MBD4 inactive mutant and substrate crystal structure clearly explains how MBD4 glycosylase discriminates substrates: 5mC are not able to be directly excised, but a deamination process from 5mC to thymine is required. On the other hand, TDG is much more complicated; in this instance, crystal structures show that TDG recognizes G:X mismatch DNA containing DNA and G:5caC containing DNA from the minor groove of DNA, which suggested that TDG might recognize 5mC oxidized product 5caC like mismatch DNA. In mutation studies, a N157D mutation results in a more 5caC specific glycosylase, and a N191A mutation inhibits 5caC activity while that when X=5fC or T remains. Here I revisit the recent MBD4 glycosylase domain co-crystal structures with DNA, as well as TDG glycosylase domain co-crystal structures with DNA in conjunction with its mutation studies.