Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Differential biologic effects of CPD and 6-4PP UV-induced DNA damage on the induction of apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest

Hsin-Lung Lo1, Satoshi Nakajima2, Lisa Ma1, Barbara Walter1, Akira Yasui2, Douglas W Ethell1 and Laurie B Owen13*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Biomedical Sciences, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521 USA

2 Department of Molecular Genetics, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Sendai, 980-8575 Japan

3 BioLegend, Inc., 8395 Camino Santa Fe, Suite E, San Diego, CA 92121 USA

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BMC Cancer 2005, 5:135  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-5-135

Published: 19 October 2005



UV-induced damage can induce apoptosis or trigger DNA repair mechanisms. Minor DNA damage is thought to halt the cell cycle to allow effective repair, while more severe damage can induce an apoptotic program. Of the two major types of UV-induced DNA lesions, it has been reported that repair of CPD, but not 6-4PP, abrogates mutation. To address whether the two major forms of UV-induced DNA damage, can induce differential biological effects, NER-deficient cells containing either CPD photolyase or 6-4 PP photolyase were exposed to UV and examined for alterations in cell cycle and apoptosis. In addition, pTpT, a molecular mimic of CPD was tested in vitro and in vivo for the ability to induce cell death and cell cycle alterations.


NER-deficient XPA cells were stably transfected with CPD-photolyase or 6-4PP photolyase to specifically repair only CPD or only 6-4PP. After 300 J/m2 UVB exposure photoreactivation light (PR, UVA 60 kJ/m2) was provided for photolyase activation and DNA repair. Apoptosis was monitored 24 hours later by flow cytometric analysis of DNA content, using sub-G1 staining to indicate apoptotic cells. To confirm the effects observed with CPD lesions, the molecular mimic of CPD, pTpT, was also tested in vitro and in vivo for its effect on cell cycle and apoptosis.


The specific repair of 6-4PP lesions after UVB exposure resulted in a dramatic reduction in apoptosis. These findings suggested that 6-4PP lesions may be the primary inducer of UVB-induced apoptosis. Repair of CPD lesions (despite their relative abundance in the UV-damaged cell) had little effect on the induction of apoptosis. Supporting these findings, the molecular mimic of CPD, (dinucleotide pTpT) could mimic the effects of UVB on cell cycle arrest, but were ineffective to induce apoptosis.


The primary response of the cell to UV-induced 6-4PP lesions is to trigger an apoptotic program whereas the response of the cell to CPD lesions appears to principally involve cell cycle arrest. These findings suggest that CPD and 6-4 PP may induce differential biological effects in the UV-damaged cell.