Reactive oxygen species have been implicated as a cause of cancer and aging in mammals. Mice deficient for the antioxidant enzyme CuZn-superoxide dismutase (Sod1) have a decreased life span and an elevated incidence of liver cancer. To test the hypothesis that the cancer-prone phenotype in such mice is due to accelerated spontaneous mutation accumulation, we crossed these mutants with mice harboring a neutral lacZ mutation reporter gene. At 2 months of age, the lacZ mutation frequency in the liver of the hybrid animals was already twice as high as in littermate controls of the same age. This difference in mutation frequency increased to >3-fold at 6 months of age, after which it did not increase any further. Characterization of the mutation spectra in liver of the Sod1-null mice indicated mainly GC-to-TA transversions and GC-to-AT transitions, signature mutations of oxidative stress. The accelerated mutation accumulation in liver was accompanied by an increased frequency of apoptotic cells, as indicated by an increase in both terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling- and caspase 3-stallied cells at 6 and 12 months of age. In kidney, an elevated mutation frequency above controls of ∼2.5-fold was found not earlier than at 6 months. No increased mutation accumulation was observed in brain or spleen. These results support the hypothesis, that oxidative stress is an important causal factor of cancer in mammals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research