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Biochemistry. 2001 Jan 16;40(2):549-60.

Non-oxidative mechanisms are responsible for the induction of mutagenesis by reduction of Cr(VI) with cysteine: role of ternary DNA adducts in Cr(III)-dependent mutagenesis.

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  • 1Brown University, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA. Anatoly_Zhitkovich@brown.edu


Intracellular reduction of carcinogenic Cr(VI) generates Cr-DNA adducts formed through the coordination of Cr(III) to DNA phosphates (phosphotriester-type adduct). Here, we examined the role of Cr(III)-DNA adducts in mutagenesis induced by metabolism of Cr(VI) with cysteine. Reduction of Cr(VI) caused a strong oxidation of 2', 7'-dichlorofluoroscin (DCFH) and extensive Cr-DNA binding but no DNA breakage. Cr-DNA adducts induced unwinding of supercoiled plasmids and structural distortions in the DNA helix as detected by decreased ethidium bromide binding. Propagation of Cr-treated pSP189 plasmids in human fibroblasts led to a dose-dependent formation of the supF mutants and inhibition of replication. Blocking of Cr(III)-DNA binding by occupation of DNA phosphates with Mg(2+) or by sequestration of Cr(III) by inorganic phosphate or EDTA eliminated mutagenic responses and restored a normal yield of replicated plasmids. Dissociation of Cr(III) from DNA by a phosphate-based reversal procedure returned mutation frequency to background levels. The mutagenic responses at the different phases of the reduction reaction were unrelated to the amount of reduced Cr(VI) but reflected the number and the spectrum of Cr(III)-DNA adducts that were formed. Ternary cysteine-Cr(III)-DNA adducts were approximately 4-5 times more mutagenic than binary Cr(III)-DNA adducts. Although intermediate reaction products (CrV/IV, thiyl radicals) were capable of oxidizing DCFH, they were insufficiently reactive to damage DNA. Single-base substitutions at G/C pairs were the predominant type of Cr-induced mutations. The majority of mutations occurred at the sites where G had adjacent purine in the 3' or 5' position. Overall, our results present the first evidence that Cr(III)-DNA adducts play the dominant role in the mutagenicity caused by the metabolism of Cr(VI) by a biological reducing agent.

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