Only two DNA repair enzymes, DNA polymerase β and O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase, have been shown to be inducible in mammalian cells by genotoxic agents. We show here that crocidolite asbestos induces the DNA repair enzyme, apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP)-endonuclease, in isolated mesothelial cells, the progenitor cells of malignant mesothelioma. Asbestos at nontoxic concentrations of 1.25 and 2.5 µg/cm2 significantly increased AP-endonuclease mRNA and protein levels as well as enzyme activity (P < 0.05) in a dose-dependent manner in rat pleural mesothelial cells. These increases were persistent from 24 to 72 h after initial exposure to fibers. Changes were not observed with glass beads, a noncarcinogenic particle. Confocal scanning laser microscopy showed that AP-endonuclease was primarily localized in the nucleus but also in mitochondria. Our data are the first to demonstrate the inducibility of AP-endonuclease by a human class I carcinogen associated with oxidant stress in normal cells of the lung.

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This work was supported by NIEHS Grants ES07038 and ES06499.

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