Escherichia coli [formamidopyrimidine]DNA glycosylase catalyses the nicking of both the phosphodiester bonds 3′ and 5′ of apurinic or apyrimidinic sites in DNA so that the base-free deoxyribose is replaced by a gap limited by 3′-phosphate and 5′-phosphate ends. The two nickings are not the results of hydrolytic processes; the [formamidopyrimidine]DNA glycosylase rather catalyses a beta-elimination reaction that is immediately followed by a delta-elimination. The enzyme is without action on a 3′-terminal base-free deoxyribose or on a 3′-terminal base-free unsaturated sugar produced by a beta-elimination reaction nicking the DNA strand 3′ to an apurinic or apyrimidinic site.

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