The investigators initially made the observation S249C occurs in a common APOBEC targeted motif (TCC -> TGC). After analysis of fork directionality, they found that the FGFR3 sense strand is mainly replicated as a lagging strand template. The authors predicted that this could allow single-stranded DNA structures to make hairpin structures exposing S249 to APOBEC enzymes mutagenesis. This is consistent with recent work suggesting that “hairpin” (stem-loop)
single-stranded DNA structures are the seat of enhanced APOBEC mutagenesis. Although they commonly detected FGFR3 S249C mutation in three different cancers (head and neck cancer, cervical cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer).
The importance of this study is that it shows that APOBEC3 mutagenesis can potentially occur in non-canonical motifs which expands the repertoire of possible APOBEC-induced mutations. It is likely that different mutagenic mechanisms produce distinct hotspot FGFR3 mutations.
Written by: Bishoy M. Faltas, MD, Director of Bladder Cancer Research, Englander Institute for Precision Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine
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