5-Formyl- and 5-Carboxydeoxycytidines Do Not Cause Accumulation of Harmful Repair Intermediates in Stem Cells
5-Formyl-dC (fdC) and 5-carboxy-dC (cadC) are newly discovered bases in the mammalian genome that are supposed to be substrates for base excision repair (BER) in the framework of active demethylation. The bases are recognized by the monofunctional thymine DNA glycosylase (Tdg), which cleaves the glycosidic bond of the bases to give potentially harmful abasic sites (AP-sites). Because of the turnover of fdC and cadC during cell state transitions, it is an open question to what extent such harmful AP-sites may accumulate during these processes. Here, we report the development of a new reagent that in combination with mass spectrometry (MS) allows us to quantify the levels of AP-sites. This combination also allowed the quantification of β-elimination (βE) products, which are repair intermediates of bifunctional DNA glycosylases. In combination with feeding of isotopically labeled nucleosides, we were able to trace the intermediates back to their original nucleobases. We show that, while the steady-state levels of fdC and cadC are substantially increased in Tdg-deficient cells, those of both AP- and βE-sites are unaltered. The levels of the detected BER intermediates are 1 and 2 orders of magnitude lower than those of cadC and fdC, respectively. Thus, neither the presence of fdC nor that of cadC in stem cells leads to the accumulation of harmful AP- and βE-site intermediates.