Involvement of DNA mismatch repair in folate deficiency-induced apoptosis

Liya Gu, Jianxin Wu, Lu Qiu, C. Darrell Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Folate is a critical factor for DNA metabolism and its deficiency is associated with a number of human diseases and cancers. Although it has been shown that folate deficiency induces genomic instability and apoptotic cell death, the underlying mechanism is largely unknown. Given the role of mismatch repair in maintaining genomic integrity, mismatch repair was tested for its involvement in folate deficiency-induced genomic instability and cell death. Cells proficient in mismatch repair were highly sensitive to folate deficiency compared with cells defective in either hMutSα or hMutLα. Since wild-type cells but not mutant cells underwent apoptosis upon extensive folate depletion, the apoptotic response is dependent on a functional mismatch repair system. Our data also indicate that p53 is required for the folate depletion-induced apoptosis. In vitro biochemical studies demonstrated that hMutSα specifically recognized DNA damage induced by folate deficiency, suggesting a direct participation of mismatch repair proteins in mediating the apoptotic response. We conclude that while the mismatch repair-dependent apoptosis is necessary to protect damaged cells from tumorigenesis, it may damage a whole tissue or organ, as seen in patients with megaloblastic anemia, during extensive folate deficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-363
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by grant CA72956 from the National Cancer Institute and funds from Lucille P. Markey Trust (to G-M.L.)


  • Apoptosis
  • DNA repair
  • Folate deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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