We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.

Recreating DNA Damage From Smoking

Recreating DNA Damage From Smoking

Recreating DNA Damage From Smoking

Recreating DNA Damage From Smoking

Credit: Unsplash
Read time:

Want a FREE PDF version of This News Story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "Recreating DNA Damage From Smoking"

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Company Type*
Job Function*
Would you like to receive further email communication from Technology Networks?

Technology Networks Ltd. needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy

The causes of bladder cancer remain largely unknown; however, smoking is seen as the main risk factor for the disease.

Researchers – led by Dr Simon Baker from the Department of Biology – grew human bladder tissues in the laboratory and exposed them to a common toxin from cigarette smoke. After the tissues were damaged by the smoke toxin, the team analyzed all three billion letters of the genetic code (DNA) to find a pattern of changes called a “mutational signature.”


Dr Baker said: “Mutational signatures can be used like fingerprints at a crime scene. When we look at the DNA in a cancer we can see the fingerprints of all the criminals involved in causing the damage that led to cancer.

“The DNA damaging event might be exposure to cigarette smoke or UV from the sun but it might also be an unknown event that causes cancer.

“Our study found that the smoke toxin left its distinctive fingerprints on the DNA of bladder tissues grown in the laboratory. However, when we looked at the DNA of patients’ bladder cancers the mutational signature, of the smoke toxin, was only responsible for a small amount of the damage.

“So despite smoking being the key risk factor for bladder cancer, direct damage of the DNA by smoke toxins is unlikely to be the main reason for these cancers forming.”


It may be that the smoke toxins accelerate other DNA damaging events and attention is now focusing on a family of enzymes called "APOBEC”.

APOBEC enzymes destroy viruses by mutating their DNA as part of the body’s natural defenses against infection, but recent studies suggest they might mistakenly target our own DNA in a number of cancer types.  The next stage of the study will be to try and understand how and why APOBEC enzymes become activated in the cells of the bladder.


Baker et al. (2020). Procarcinogen Activation and Mutational Signatures Model the 4 Initiation of Carcinogenesis in Human Urothelial Tissues In Vitro. European Urology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2020.03.049

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.