Maintaining the chemical integrity of DNA in the face of assault by oxidizing agents is a constant challenge for living organisms. Base-excision repair has an important role in preventing mutations associated with a common product of oxidative damage to DNA, 8-oxoguanine. Recent structural studies have shown that 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylases use an intricate series of steps to locate and excise 8-oxoguanine lesions efficiently against a high background of undamaged bases. The importance of preventing mutations associated with 8-oxoguanine is shown by a direct association between defects in the DNA glycosylase MUTYH and colorectal cancer. The properties of other guanine oxidation products and the associated DNA glycosylases that remove them are now also being revealed.
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