Albert Einstein Cancer Center

V-region mutation in vitro, in vivo, and in silico reveal the importance of the enzymatic properties of AID and the sequence environment

The somatic hyper mutation of Ig variable regions requires the activity of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) which has previously been shown to preferentially deaminate WRC (W = A/T, R = A/G) motif hot spots in in vivo and in vitro assays. In this study, AECC investigators Bergman and  Scharff compared mutation profiles of in vitro assays for the 3' flanking intron of VhJ558-Jh4 region to previously reported in vivo profiles for the same region in the Msh2(-/-)Ung(-/-) mice that lack base excision and mismatch repair. They found that the in vitro and in vivo mutation profiles were highly correlated for the top (nontranscribed) strand, while for the bottom (transcribed) strand the correlation is far lower. Using an in silico model of AID activity to elucidate the relative importance of motif targeting in vivo they found that the mutation process entails substantial complexity beyond motif targeting, a large part of which is captured in vitro. To elucidate the contribution of the sequence environment to the observed differences between the top and bottom strands, intermutational distances were measured. The bottom strand shows an approximately exponential distribution of distances in vivo and in vitro, as expected from a null model. However, the top strand deviates strongly from this distribution in that mutations approximately 50 nucleotides apart are greatly reduced, again both in vivo and in vitro, illustrating an important strand asymmetry. While the AID targeting of hot and cold spots was previously shown by these investigators to be a key part of the mutation process, these results suggest that the sequence environment plays an equally important role. 

 
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