Functional and deep sequencing studies have combined to demonstrate the involvement of APOBEC3B in cancer mutagenesis. APOBEC3B is a single-stranded DNA cytosine deaminase that functions normally as a nuclear-localized restriction factor of DNA-based pathogens. However, it is overexpressed in cancer cells and elicits an intrinsic preference for 5′-TC motifs in single-stranded DNA, which is the most frequently mutated dinucleotide in breast, head/neck, lung, bladder, cervical, and several other tumor types. In many cases, APOBEC3B mutagenesis accounts for the majority of both dispersed and clustered (kataegis) cytosine mutations. Here, we report the first structures of the APOBEC3B catalytic domain in multiple crystal forms. These structures reveal a tightly closed active site conformation and suggest that substrate accessibility is regulated by adjacent flexible loops. Residues important for catalysis are identified by mutation analyses, and the results provide insights into the mechanism of target site selection. We also report a nucleotide (dCMP)-bound crystal structure that informs a multistep model for binding single-stranded DNA. Overall, these high resolution crystal structures provide a framework for further mechanistic studies and the development of novel anti-cancer drugs to inhibit this enzyme, dampen tumor evolution, and minimize adverse outcomes such as drug resistance and metastasis.
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© 2015 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.