Deoxyuracil in DNA and disease: Genomic signal or managed situation? Academic Article uri icon


  • Genomic instability is implicated in the etiology of several deleterious health outcomes including megaloblastic anemia, neural tube defects, and neurodegeneration. Uracil misincorporation and its repair are known to cause genomic instability by inducing DNA strand breaks leading to apoptosis, but there is emerging evidence that uracil incorporation may also result in broader modifications of gene expression, including: changes in transcriptional stalling, strand break-mediated transcriptional upregulation, and direct promoter inhibition. The factors that influence uracil levels in DNA are cytosine deamination, de novo thymidylate (dTMP) biosynthesis, salvage dTMP biosynthesis, dUTPase, and DNA repair. There is evidence that the nuclear localization of the enzymes in these pathways in mammalian cells may modify and/or control the levels of uracil accumulation into nuclear DNA. Uracil sequencing technologies demonstrate that uracil in DNA is not distributed stochastically across the genome, but instead shows patterns of enrichment. Nuclear localization of the enzymes that modify uracil in DNA may serve to change these patterns of enrichment in a tissue-specific manner, and thereby signal the genome in response to metabolic and/or nutritional state of the cell.

altmetric score

  • 2.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Chon, J., Field, M. S., & Stover, P. J.

citation count

  • 7

publication date

  • February 2019