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Biochemistry. 1995 Feb 14;34(6):2076-86.

Sequence-specific double-strand cleavage of DNA by Fe-bleomycin. 2. Mechanism and dynamics.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


The mechanism of iron-bleomycin-mediated ds-cleavage of DNA has been investigated at specific sites within specific sequences using hairpin oligonucleotides (Absalon et al., 1995) and our recently developed technique for determining sequence-specific isotope effects upon oxidative degradation of DNA (Kozarich et al., 1989; Worth et al., 1993). Isotope effects upon ds-cleavage have been observed when the C-4' hydrogen of either nucleotide involved in the ds-break was substituted with deuterium. The values of the isotope effects determined for ss and ds events occurring at the same site were indistinguishable at four sites examined in detail. The results are consistent with a mechanism of ds-cleavage in which the pathways leading to ss- and ds-cleavage partition from a common intermediate subsequent to abstraction of the C-4' hydrogen from the first nucleotide involved in the cleavage. Deuterium substitution at the primary cleavage site of a ds-break failed to result in an equivalent effect on the amount of cleavage at the secondary cleavage site, suggesting that ds-cleavage may be initiated from either of the nucleotides involved in the ds-cleavage event. A kinetic preference for cleavage initiated at the 1 degree site, however, is probable. The requirement in the ds-cleavage process for O2, in addition to that needed to form "activated BLM", has been clearly demonstrated by the absence of ds-cleavage products in reactions performed under anaerobic conditions in which ss-cleavage still occurs. These results support, in part, the basic model for ds-cleavage proposed by Steighner and Povirk [(1990) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87, 8350-8354], in which a single molecule of BLM effects ds-cleavage and requires reactivation to effect cleavage at the second strand. The essential factor establishing the ratio of ss- to ds-cleavage at a specific site may be related to the efficiency by which Fe-BLM can be reactivated and/or repositioned at a second site for cleavage.

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