Diminished DNA repair and elevated mutagenesis in mammalian cells exposed to hypoxia and low pH

Jianling Yuan, L. Narayanan, S. Rockwell, P. M. Glazer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


The tumor microenvironment is characterized by regions of fluctuating and chronic hypoxia, low pH, and nutrient deprivation. It has been proposed that this unique tissue environment itself may constitute a major cause of the genetic instability seen in cancer. To investigate possible mechanisms by which the tumor microenvironment might contribute to genetic instability, we asked whether the conditions found in solid tumors could influence cellular repair of DNA damage. Using an assay for repair based on host cell reactivation of UV-damaged plasmid DNA, cells exposed to hypoxia and low pH were found to have a diminished capacity for DNA repair compared with control cells grown under standard culture conditions. In addition, cells cultured under hypoxia at pH 6.5 immediately after UV irradiation had elevated levels of induced mutagenesis compared with those maintained in standard growth conditions. Taken together, the results suggest that cellular repair functions may be impaired under the conditions of the tumor microenvironment, causing hypermutability to DNA damage. This alteration in repair capacity may constitute an important mechanism underlying the genetic instability of cancer cells in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4372-4376
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2000
Externally publishedYes


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