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Chem Res Toxicol. 2004 Nov;17(11):1452-8.

Co(II) and Cd(II) substitute for Zn(II) in the zinc finger derived from the DNA repair protein XPA, demonstrating a variety of potential mechanisms of toxicity.

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  • 1Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Pawinskiego 5a, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland.


XPA is one of the key members of the protein complex of the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway of DNA repair. The CCCC zinc finger domain of XPA is involved in the interactions with other NER proteins. To study the possible molecular mechanisms of XPA inhibition, we previously investigated Zn(II) and Ni(II) interactions with the synthetic 37 amino acid peptide (XPAzf), AcDYVICEECGKEFMDSYLMNHFDLPTCDNCRDADDKHKam, representing the XPA zinc finger sequence (Bal, W., Schwerdtle, T., and Hartwig, A. (2003) Mechanism of nickel assault on the zinc finger of DNA repair protein XPA. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 16, 242-248). In this work, we extended these studies on other carcinogenic metal ions, Co(II) and Cd(II). The binding constants and complex geometries were determined using UV-vis and CD spectroscopies, and oxidative damage to XPAzf was studied with HPLC. The conditional binding constants determined for Co(II) and Cd(II) in 50 mM phosphate buffer, pH 7.4, are 10(7.4)+/-(0.4) and 10(12.8)+/-(0.5), respectively, yielding binding constant ratios Zn(II)/Co(II) of 100 and Zn(II)/ Cd(II) of 0.001, which are the lowest values reported for zinc fingers so far. The Co(II) ion forms a tetrahedral complex with the sulfurs of XPAzf, which is isostructural with the native zinc finger. The Cd(II) complex is somewhat less structured. The oxidation of Zn(II)-saturated XPAzf by H2O2 is accelerated in the presence of Co(II), but the concentration profile of this effect indicates the formation of an active Co(II) complex external to the metal-sulfur center. The Cd(II)-saturated XPAzf is very resistant to oxidation by H2O2. Overall, our results indicate that XPAzf can undergo Co(II) and Cd(II) assault under specific conditions.

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