Nat Commun 14 (1) 2701 [2023-05-11; online 2023-05-11]
Decades ago, it was shown that proteins binding to DNA can quantitatively alter the formation of DNA damage by UV light. This established the principle of UV footprinting for non-intrusive study of protein-DNA contacts in living cells, albeit at limited scale and precision. Here, we perform deep base-resolution quantification of the principal UV damage lesion, the cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer (CPD), at select human promoter regions using targeted CPD sequencing. Several transcription factors exhibited distinctive and repeatable damage signatures indicative of site occupancy, involving strong (up to 17-fold) position-specific elevations and reductions in CPD formation frequency relative to naked DNA. Positive damage modulation at some ETS transcription factor binding sites coincided at base level with melanoma somatic mutation hotspots. Our work provides proof of concept for the study of protein-DNA interactions at individual loci using light and sequencing, and reveals widespread and potent modulation of UV damage in regulatory regions.