Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Repetitive DNA sequences, such as those present in microsatellites and minisatellites, telomeres, and trinucleotide repeats (linked to fragile X syndrome, Huntington disease, etc.), account for nearly 30% of the human genome. These domains exhibit enhanced susceptibility to oxidative attack to yield base modifications, strand breaks, and abasic sites; have a propensity to adopt non-canonical DNA forms modulated by the positions of the lesions; and, when not properly processed, can contribute to genome instability that underlies aging and disease development. Knowledge on the repair efficiencies of DNA damage within such repetitive sequences is therefore crucial for understanding the impact of such domains on genomic integrity. In the present study, using strategically designed oligonucleotide substrates, we determined the ability of human apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 (APE1) to cleave at apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) sites in a collection of tandem DNA repeat landscapes involving telomeric and CAG/CTG repeat sequences. Our studies reveal the differential influence of domain sequence, conformation, and AP site location/relative positioning on the efficiency of APE1 binding and strand incision. Intriguingly, our data demonstrate that APE1 endonuclease efficiency correlates with the thermodynamic stability of the DNA substrate. We discuss how these results have both predictive and mechanistic consequences for understanding the success and failure of repair protein activity associated with such oxidatively sensitive, conformationally plastic/dynamic repetitive DNA domains.