Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30679716
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41598-018-37305-z
Sci Rep 2019 Jan; 9(1): 728
The incidence of developing cancer should increase with the body mass, yet is not the case, a conundrum referred to as Peto’s paradox. Elephants have a lower incidence of cancer suggesting that these animals have probably evolved different ways to protect themselves against the disease. The paradox is worth revisiting with the realization that most mammals encode an endogenous APOBEC3 cytidine deaminase capable of mutating single stranded DNA. Indeed, the mutagenic activity of some APOBEC3 enzymes has been shown to introduce somatic mutations into genomic DNA. These enzymes are now recognized as causal agent responsible for the accumulation of CG- > TA transitions and DNA breaks leading to chromosomal rearrangements in human cancer genomes. Here, we identified an elephant A3Z1 gene, related to human APOBEC3A and showed that it could efficiently deaminate cytidine, 5-methylcytidine and produce DNA breaks leading to massive apoptosis, similar to other mammalian APOBEC3A enzymes where body mass varies by up to four orders of magnitude. Consequently, it could be considered that eAZ1 might contribute to cancer in elephants in a manner similar to their proposed role in humans. If so, eAZ1 might be particularly well regulated to counter Peto’s paradox.