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Toxicol Lett. 2002 Feb 28;127(1-3):55-62.

Induction of oxidative DNA damage by carcinogenic metals.

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Faculty of Chemistry, University of Wroclaw, Ul. F. Joliot-Curie 14, 50-383, Poland.


The metal ions carcinogenic to humans are As, Be, Cd, Cr and Ni, and the candidates also include Co, Cu, Fe and Pt. A range of molecular mechanisms was proposed for these metals, reflecting their diverse chemical properties. The oxidative concept in metal carcinogenesis proposes that some complexes of the above metals (Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni) formed in vivo undergo redox cycling, yielding reactive oxygen species and/or high valence metal ions which oxidize DNA. Some of the products of oxidative DNA damage, including 8-oxoguanine and strand breaks, induce mutations, which may lead to neoplastic transformation. The establishment of metal-binding modes in the cell nucleus and of their reactivity is crucial for the understanding of molecular events in metal carcinogenesis. We have proposed the binding sites for Ni(II) and Cu(II) in core histones (H3, H2A) and sperm protamines (HP2) and, using molecular models, provided evidence for the generation of promutagenic oxidative DNA damage by the bound metals.

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