Spontaneous mutations are derived from various sources, including errors made during replication of undamaged template DNA, mutagenic nucleotide substrates, and endogenous DNA lesions. These sources vary in their frequencies and resultant mutations, and are differently affected by the DNA sequence, DNA transactions, and cellular metabolism. Organisms possess a variety of cellular functions to suppress spontaneous mutagenesis, and the specificity and effectiveness of each function strongly affect the pattern of spontaneous mutations. Base substitutions and single-base frameshifts, two major classes of spontaneous mutations, occur non-randomly throughout the genome. Within target DNA sequences there are hotspots for particular types of spontaneous mutations; outside of the hotspots, spontaneous mutations occur more randomly and much less frequently. Hotspot mutations are attributable more to endogenous DNA lesions than to replication errors. Recently, a novel class of mutagenic pathway that depends on short inverted repeats was identified as another important source of hotspot mutagenesis.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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