BACKGROUND:Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the principal cause of keratinocyte skin cancers. Previous work found that levels of the chromatin remodelling protein, Brahma (Brm), are diminished during the progression from actinic keratoses to cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas in humans, and its loss in UV-irradiated mouse skin causes epidermal hyperplasia and increased tumour incidence. METHODS:The skins of mice and mouse and human keratinocytes deficient in Brm were exposed to UVR and evaluated for cell cycle progression and DNA damage response. OBJECTIVE:To identify the mechanisms by which loss of Brm contributes to UVR-induced skin carcinogenesis. RESULTS:In both mouse keratinocytes and HaCaT cells, Brm deficiency led to an increased cell population growth following UVR exposure compared to cells with normal levels of Brm. Cell cycle analysis using a novel assay showed that Brm-deficient keratinocytes entered cell cycle arrest normally, but escaped from cell cycle arrest faster, enabling them to begin proliferating earlier. In mouse keratinocytes, Brm primarily affected accumulation in G0/G1-phase, whereas in HaCaT cells, which lack normal p53, accumulation in G2/M-phase was affected. Brm-deficient keratinocytes in mouse skin and human cell cultures also had higher levels of UVR-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer photolesions. These effects occurred without any compensatory increase in DNA repair or cell death to remove photolesions or the cells that harbor them from the keratinocyte population. CONCLUSION:The loss of Brm in keratinocytes exposed to UVR enables them to resume proliferation while harboring DNA photolesions, leading to an increased fixation of mutations and, consequently, increased carcinogenesis.