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J Mol Biol. 2002 Aug 23;321(4):591-9.

Zebularine: a novel DNA methylation inhibitor that forms a covalent complex with DNA methyltransferases.

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Department of Biochemistry, Emory University School of Medicine, 1510 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Mechanism-based inhibitors of enzymes, which mimic reactive intermediates in the reaction pathway, have been deployed extensively in the analysis of metabolic pathways and as candidate drugs. The inhibition of cytosine-[C5]-specific DNA methyltransferases (C5 MTases) by oligodeoxynucleotides containing 5-azadeoxycytidine (AzadC) and 5-fluorodeoxycytidine (FdC) provides a well-documented example of mechanism-based inhibition of enzymes central to nucleic acid metabolism. Here, we describe the interaction between the C5 MTase from Haemophilus haemolyticus (M.HhaI) and an oligodeoxynucleotide duplex containing 2-H pyrimidinone, an analogue often referred to as zebularine and known to give rise to high-affinity complexes with MTases. X-ray crystallography has demonstrated the formation of a covalent bond between M.HhaI and the 2-H pyrimidinone-containing oligodeoxynucleotide. This observation enables a comparison between the mechanisms of action of 2-H pyrimidinone with other mechanism-based inhibitors such as FdC. This novel complex provides a molecular explanation for the mechanism of action of the anti-cancer drug zebularine.

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