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What Is Glycosylase?

What Is Glycosylase?

Discover the importance and function of glycosylase enzymes in DNA repair with our in depth guide. Thanks to Photozyme products you can expect the best in skincare with…

Key Takeaways: 

  • Crucial Role in DNA Integrity: Glycosylases are vital for maintaining genomic stability by detecting and removing damaged or incorrect nucleotides from DNA. This action prevents the propagation of mutations and errors that could lead to severe diseases, including cancer. 
  • Variety and Specificity: There are several types of glycosylases, each tailored to recognize and repair specific types of DNA damage. This specificity ensures that different types of DNA damage caused by various internal and external factors, such as oxidative stress or UV radiation, are appropriately addressed, thereby safeguarding the cell's genetic material.
  • Impact on Aging and Disease: The efficiency of glycosylases in DNA repair declines with age, contributing to the aging process and the onset of age-related diseases. Research into the functionality of glycosylases not only provides insights into the mechanisms of aging but also highlights potential therapeutic targets for preventing or mitigating age-associated diseases.


Glycosylase is a vital enzyme that plays a crucial role in DNA repair mechanisms. These specialized enzymes are responsible for recognizing and removing incorrect or damaged nucleotide bases in the DNA molecule, ensuring the integrity and stability of the genetic material. By identifying and excising aberrant bases, glycosylases help maintain the accuracy of DNA replication and transcription processes, ultimately safeguarding the genetic information from mutations and potential errors.

These DNA repair enzymes are essential for the preservation of genomic stability, as they play a pivotal role in correcting base mismatches, lesions, and other forms of DNA damage caused by various internal and external factors. The efficient functioning of glycosylases is vital for preventing mutations that could lead to serious health implications, including cancer and other genetic disorders.


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Introduction To Glycosylase

Glycosylase enzymes play a crucial role in DNA repair mechanisms, specifically in base excision repair. These specialized enzymes identify and remove damaged bases from DNA strands, ensuring the integrity and stability of the genetic material.

There are several classes of glycosylases, each targeting specific types of damage such as oxidized bases or alkylated bases. For example, uracil glycosylase specializes in the removal of uracil, whereas thymine-DNA glycosylase recognizes and excises thymine residues from DNA.

The mechanism of action of glycosylases involves the recognition of abnormal bases through specific binding sites within the enzyme's active site. Once the damaged base is identified, the glycosylase catalyzes the hydrolysis of the glycosidic bond linking the abnormal base to the sugar phosphate backbone of the DNA strand. This results in the release of the damaged base, creating an abasic site that is further processed by downstream repair enzymes.

In addition to their role in base excision repair, glycosylases also participate in the protection of cells against the harmful effects of DNA-damaging agents, such as reactive oxygen species and environmental mutagens. By promptly detecting and repairing damaged bases, glycosylases help maintain genomic stability and prevent the accumulation of mutations that could lead to diseases like cancer.

Overall, glycosylase enzymes are vital components of the DNA repair machinery, safeguarding the integrity of the genome and ensuring the accurate transmission of genetic information from one generation to the next. 


Understanding DNA Repair Mechanisms

Glycosylases are key enzymes in DNA repair mechanisms, crucial for maintaining the integrity of our genetic material. These enzymes detect and excise abnormal or damaged bases in DNA, which may result from environmental toxins, UV radiation, or replication errors. By removing these defective bases, glycosylases help preserve DNA's structural and functional integrity, preventing the propagation of errors that could lead to severe genomic consequences.

Different types of glycosylases target specific damaged bases, such as uracil glycosylase, which removes uracil that incorrectly replaces cytosine, and 8-oxoguanine glycosylase, which excises 8-oxoguanine, a prevalent lesion resulting from oxidative stress. These specialized actions contribute to the accuracy of DNA repair, ensuring that each type of damage is appropriately addressed.

Understanding glycosylases' role in DNA repair is essential for comprehending how cells maintain genomic stability and protect against mutations that could lead to disorders like cancer. By efficiently excising damaged bases, glycosylases not only support the health of genetic material but also ensure that cellular functions and division proceed without genetic disruptions, safeguarding overall cellular health.

Why DNA Repair Matters

Also known as photodamage, the skin’s DNA is very susceptible to damage from UV light.  Avoid the consequences of UV exposure. 80% of skin aging is due to the sun and no sunscreen is 100% effective. Your skin’s DNA is subject to daily environmental assaults accelerating skin aging. Your body can only process and repair about 50% of this damage in any given day. However, your skin is not defenseless against this damage. 


Where Photozyme Comes In

Thanks to our DNA Enzyme Technology, our products utilize a targeted delivery of natural repair enzymes to help prevent the signs of skin aging from surfacing. These enzymes are:

  • Plant-derived which mimic the body’s natural response to photodamage
  • Encapsulated in a proprietary lipsome delivery system which drives them into the skin delivering the cargo into the cell. 
  • Search and only adhere to the damaged DNA strand.
  • From here, the cell’s natural process takes over, extracting the damage and replicating a healthy DNA strand. 

Types of Glycosylase and Their Specific Functions

Glycosylases are a group of enzymes that play a crucial role in DNA repair by excising incorrect or damaged nucleotides from DNA. There are several types of glycosylases, each specialized in recognizing and removing specific types of damaged bases. Here are some common types of glycosylases and their specific functions:

  1. Uracil DNA Glycosylase (UDG): UDG is an enzyme that targets uracil bases in DNA. Uracil is not supposed to be present in DNA and is the result of cytosine deamination. UDG recognizes and removes uracil, initiating the base excision repair process.
  2. Thymine DNA Glycosylase (TDG): TDG is responsible for excising thymine bases paired with guanine, which can result from deamination of 5-methylcytosine. TDG helps maintain the integrity of the DNA methylation patterns.
  3. 8-Oxoguanine Glycosylase (OGG1): OGG1 targets the oxidatively damaged base, 8-oxoguanine. This lesion is formed by the oxidation of guanine and can lead to mutations if not repaired. OGG1 plays a crucial role in preventing the accumulation of mutations caused by oxidative stress.
  4. Methyl-CpG-binding Domain 4 (MBD4): MBD4 is involved in repairing G/T and G/U mismatches resulting from deamination of 5-methylcytosine. It helps maintain the proper sequence of DNA by removing incorrect bases.


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Exploring the Relationship Between Glycosylase and Aging

Glycosylases are enzymes essential for repairing DNA damage, particularly by removing abnormal bases that accumulate as a result of oxidative stress and other damaging processes. As humans age, the efficiency of these DNA repair systems, including glycosylase activities, declines, contributing to the aging process and the development of age-related diseases. This decrease in activity leads to mutations, genomic instability, and cellular dysfunction, accelerating aging and contributing to the deterioration of cellular health.

Research into the role of glycosylases highlights their significance in managing oxidative damage, which increases with age due to reactive oxygen species. Deficiencies in these enzymes have been linked to several neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, which are characterized by cognitive decline. Insights into how glycosylases influence DNA repair could reveal new mechanisms underlying age-related diseases and identify potential targets for therapeutic interventions aimed at promoting healthy aging and mitigating age-associated diseases.


Glycosylase In Bacterial Defense Mechanisms

Glycosylases play a crucial role in bacterial defense mechanisms by repairing damaged DNA caused by oxidative stress, alkylating agents, and other environmental factors. In response to these damaging agents, glycosylases are activated to identify and remove specific damaged bases from DNA, ensuring the integrity of the bacterial genome.

One of the most well-studied glycosylases in bacterial defense mechanisms is the uracil-DNA glycosylase (UDG). UDG is responsible for recognizing and excising uracil, a common DNA base that can arise from cytosine deamination. By removing uracil from the DNA strand, UDG prevents the erroneous incorporation of adenine opposite uracil during DNA replication, ultimately preserving the genetic information stored in the bacterial genome.

Another important glycosylase involved in bacterial defense is the 3-methyladenine DNA glycosylase (TAG). TAG is crucial for removing alkylated bases, such as 3-methyladenine, which can be induced by exposure to alkylating agents in the environment. By excising these damaged bases, TAG prevents mutations and DNA breaks that could compromise the survival of the bacterial cell.

Overall, glycosylases play a vital role in maintaining genomic stability and protecting bacterial cells from the harmful effects of DNA damage. Through their precise recognition and repair mechanisms, glycosylases contribute to the resilience of bacterial defense systems and ensure the efficient functioning of essential cellular processes.


Target Damage At The Source 

While you’ve heard that sunscreen is the base for all, at Photozyme we’re interested in telling you why sunscreen is not enough. Thanks to leading dermatologists, Dr. Zoe Draelos and Dr. Flor Mayoral, Photozyme and its DNA repair enzymes are considered to be FUNDAMENTAL pillars of a healthy skincare regimen. Along with sunscreen and antioxidants, DNA repair enzymes make up the foundation for overall skin health.  

  • Without the protection and repair products which make up the fundamental base of the pyramid, the transform and optimize products will not be able to do their jobs properly.
  • DNA repair enzymes such as Photolyase, a key ingredient in Photozyme products, are imperative to prevent damage. 


Target Damage At The Source


Glycosylase Compared To Other DNA Repair Enzymes

Glycosylase is a key DNA repair enzyme that specifically targets and removes damaged or incorrect nucleotides, distinguishing it from other repair enzymes like helicase and polymerase. It plays a crucial role in the base excision repair pathway, directly addressing the accuracy of genetic information by identifying and excising abnormal bases. 

This specificity is essential for preventing mutations that could cause genetic diseases or cancer. Glycosylase works in coordination with other enzymes to ensure complete and accurate DNA repair, emphasizing its vital role in maintaining genomic stability and safeguarding the cell's genetic information.


What Type Of Enzyme Removes Damaged DNA?

Glycosylases are enzymes that play a crucial role in DNA repair by removing damaged or inappropriate bases from DNA. They initiate the base excision repair (BER) pathway by recognizing and cleaving the glycosidic bond between an abnormal base and the sugar-phosphate backbone of DNA, creating an apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) site. 

This triggers other repair enzymes to complete the removal and replacement process. Glycosylases have different classes based on their substrate specificity; for example, uracil DNA glycosylase targets uracil instead of thymine, and 8-oxoguanine glycosylase targets oxidized guanine. 

Additional Reading: 

Frequently Asked Questions on Glycosylase


What is glycosylase?

Glycosylase is an enzyme that plays a crucial role in the maintenance and repair of DNA. It identifies and removes damaged or incorrect bases from DNA, initiating the first step in the base excision repair (BER) pathway, a process critical for correcting DNA damage and preventing mutations.


How does glycosylase function in DNA repair?

Glycosylase functions in DNA repair by scanning the DNA for damaged or mismatched bases. Once a mistake is found, the enzyme cleaves the glycosidic bond between the base and the sugar-phosphate backbone of the DNA, removing the flawed base. This action creates an abasic site, priming the DNA for the subsequent steps of the base excision repair process.


What types of glycosylases are there?

There are several types of glycosylases, each specialized for recognizing and removing specific types of damaged or incorrect bases. Some common types include uracil DNA glycosylase (UDG), which removes uracil from DNA; 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase, which specifically targets and excises oxidatively damaged guanine; and thymine DNA glycosylase, which removes thymine or uracil inappropriately paired with guanine.


How does glycosylase recognize damaged DNA?

Glycosylase recognizes damaged DNA through a combination of mechanisms that allow it to detect abnormalities in the shape and chemical properties of the DNA double helix. The enzyme scans the DNA, searching for irregularities that indicate the presence of damaged bases. Upon encounter, glycosylases use a variety of chemical interactions to enforce base flipping, wherein the damaged base is rotated out of the DNA helix, allowing the enzyme to excise it correctly.


Is glycosylase present in all living organisms?

Yes, glycosylase enzymes are present in nearly all living organisms, from bacteria to humans. This ubiquity underscores the essential role of glycosylases in preserving genetic information and preventing mutagenesis across different life forms.


What is the role of glycosylase in base excision repair?

The role of glycosylase in base excision repair (BER) is to initiate the repair process by identifying and removing damaged bases from DNA. This removal creates an abasic site, which is then processed by other enzymes in the BER pathway that cut the DNA backbone, insert the correct base, and seal the nick, thereby restoring the DNA to its original state.


How does glycosylase contribute to maintaining genome stability?

Glycosylase contributes to maintaining genome stability by constantly monitoring the DNA for damage and initiating repair processes to correct any lesions found. By swiftly and accurately fixing the damage, glycosylases prevent mutations that could lead to genomic instability, cell death, or tumorigenesis.


Can glycosylase activity be regulated?

Yes, glycosylase activity can be regulated at multiple levels, including transcriptional regulation of the genes encoding glycosylases, post-translational modifications of the glycosylase proteins that can affect their activity or specificity, and interaction with other proteins that can enhance or inhibit their function.


What happens if glycosylase fails to repair DNA damage?

If glycosylase fails to repair DNA damage, the unresolved lesions can result in faulty base pairing during DNA replication, leading to mutations. These mutations may accumulate over time, potentially causing genomic instability, cell dysfunction, and diseases such as cancer.


How is glycosylase different from other DNA repair enzymes?

Glycosylase is different from other DNA repair enzymes in its specificity for the base excision repair pathway and its unique mechanism of action, which involves flipping out damaged bases and cleaving the N-glycosidic bond. While other DNA repair enzymes, such as nucleases, ligases, and polymerases, also play critical roles in the maintenance of DNA integrity, they function in different capacities and stages of the DNA repair processes.


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  2. Spencer JM, Morgan MB, Trapp KM, Moon SD. Topical formulation engendered alteration in p53 and cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer expression in chronic photodamaged patients. J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 Mar;12(3):336-40. PMID: 23545918.
  3. Carducci M, Pavone PS, De Marco G, Lovati S, Altabas V, Altabas K, Emanuele E. Comparative Effects of Sunscreens Alone vs Sunscreens Plus DNA Repair Enzymes in Patients With Actinic Keratosis: Clinical and Molecular Findings from a 6-Month, Randomized, Clinical Study. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Sep;14(9):986-90. PMID: 26355618.
  4. Mayoral FA, Kenner JR, Draelos ZD. The skin health and beauty pyramid: a clinically based guide to selecting topical skincare products. J Drugs Dermatol. 2014 Apr;13(4):414-21. PMID: 24719060.

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