Deoxyuracil in DNA in health and disease.
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Genome instability has long been implicated as a primary causal factor in cancer and diseases of aging. The genome is constantly under attack from extrinsic and intrinsic damaging agents. Uracil misincorporation in DNA and its repair is an intrinsic factor resulting in genomic instability and DNA mutations. Additionally, the presence of uracil in DNA can modify gene expression by interfering with promoter binding and transcription inhibition or upregulation of apoptotic proteins. In immune cells, uracil in DNA drives beneficial genomic diversity for antigen-driven immunity. This review addresses diseases that are linked to uracil accumulation in DNA, its causes, consequences, and the associated biomarkers of risk factors. RECENT FINDINGS: Elevated genomic uracil is associated with megaloblastic anemia, neural tube defects, and retroviral immunity. Current evidence supporting causal mechanisms and nutritional interventions that rescue impaired pathways associated with uracil accumulation in DNA are summarized in this review. SUMMARY: Nutritional deficiencies in B vitamins can cause uracil misincorporation into DNA leading to genome instability and associated diseases. Nutritional approaches to preventing uracil accumulation in DNA show some promise to address its associated diseases, but additional randomized controlled trials are needed.