DNA Editing by APOBECs: A Genomic Preserver and Transformer

Binyamin A. Knisbacher, Doron Gerber, Erez Y. Levanon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Information warfare is not limited to the cyber world because it is waged within our cells as well. The unique AID (activation-induced cytidine deaminase)/APOBEC (apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide) family comprises proteins that alter DNA sequences by converting deoxycytidines to deoxyuridines through deamination. This C-to-U DNA editing enables them to inhibit parasitic viruses and retrotransposons by disrupting their genomic content. In addition to attacking genomic invaders, APOBECs can target their host genome, which can be beneficial by initiating processes that create antibody diversity needed for the immune system or by accelerating the rate of evolution. AID can also alter gene regulation by removing epigenetic modifications from genomic DNA. However, when uncontrolled, these powerful agents of change can threaten genome stability and eventually lead to cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-28
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Efrat Michaely and Esther Stein for their help. This work was supported by the European Research Council (Grant 311257) and the I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee in Israel (Grants 41/11 and 1796/12).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • AID
  • C-to-U editing
  • DNA editing
  • Genome evolution
  • Retrotransposons


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