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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1981 Oct; 78(10): 6126–6129.
PMCID: PMC348990

32P-labeling test for DNA damage.


Covalent adducts formed by the reaction of DNA with chemical carcinogens and mutagens may be detected by a 32P-labeling test. DNA preparations exposed to chemicals known to bind covalently to DNA [N-methyl-N-nitrosourea, dimethyl sulfate, formaldehyde, beta-propiolactone, propylene oxide, streptozotocin, nitrogen mustard, and 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea] were digested to a mixture of deoxynucleoside 3'-monophosphates by incubation with micrococcal endonuclease (EC and spleen exonuclease (EC The digests were treated with [gamma-32P]ATP and T4 polynucleotide kinase (ATP:5'-dephosphopolynucleotide 5'-phosphotransferase, EC to convert the monophosphates to 5'-32P-labeled deoxynucleoside 3',5'-bis-phosphates. These compounds were then separated on polyethyleneimine-cellulose thin layers in ammonium formate and ammonium sulfate solutions. Autoradiograms of the chromatograms obtained by this high-resolution procedure showed the presence of nucleotides derived from chemically altered, as well as normal, DNA constituents. Maps from DNA exposed to any of the chemicals used exhibited a spot pattern typical for the particular chemical. This method detected a single adduct in 10(5) DNA nucleotides without requiring that the compound under investigation be radioactive and thus provides a useful test to screen chemicals for their capacity to damage DNA by covalent binding.

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