Preferential CEBP binding to T:G mismatches and increased C-to-T human somatic mutations Article (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Yang, Jie; Horton, John R; Akdemir, Kadir C; Li, Jia; Huang, Yun; Kumar, Janani; Blumenthal, Robert M; Zhang, Xing; Cheng, Xiaodong


  • DNA cytosine methylation in mammals modulates gene expression and chromatin accessibility. It also impacts mutation rates, via spontaneous oxidative deamination of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to thymine. In most cases the resulting T:G mismatches are repaired, following T excision by one of the thymine DNA glycosylases, TDG or MBD4. We found that C-to-T mutations are enriched in the binding sites of CCAAT/enhancer binding proteins (CEBP). Within a CEBP site, the presence of a T:G mismatch increased CEBPβ binding affinity by a factor of >60 relative to the normal C:G base pair. This enhanced binding to a mismatch inhibits its repair by both TDG and MBD4 in vitro. Furthermore, repair of the deamination product of unmethylated cytosine, which yields a U:G DNA mismatch that is normally repaired via uracil DNA glycosylase, is also inhibited by CEBPβ binding. Passage of a replication fork over either a T:G or U:G mismatch, before repair can occur, results in a C-to-T mutation in one of the daughter duplexes. Our study thus provides a plausible mechanism for accumulation of C-to-T human somatic mutations.

publication date

  • 2021

published in

start page

  • 5084

end page

  • 5094


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