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Mutat Res. 2003 Apr 9;525(1-2):109-19.

Mechanism of DNA strand breakage induced by photosensitized tetracycline-Cu(II) complex.

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Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Unit, AMU, Aligarh 202002, UP, India.


Tetracyclines (TCs) in combination with Cu(II) ions exhibited significant DNA damaging potential vis a vis tetracyclines per se. Interaction of tetracyclines with DNA resulted in alkylation at N-7 and N-3 positions of adenine and guanine bases, and caused destabilization of DNA secondary structure. Significant release of acid-soluble nucleotides from tetracycline-modified DNA upon incubation with S(1) nuclease ascertained the formation of single stranded regions in the DNA. Also, the treatment of tetracycline-modified DNA with 0.1 and 0.5M NaOH resulted in 62 and 76% hydrolysis compared to untreated control. Comparative alkaline hydrolysis of DNA modified with tetracycline derivatives showed differential DNA damaging ability in the order as DOTC > DMTC > TC > OTC > CTC. Addition of Cu(II) invariably augmented the extent of tetracycline-induced DNA damage. The alkaline unwinding assay clearly demonstrated the formation of approximately six strand breaks per unit DNA at 1:10 DNA nucleotide/TC molar ratio in the presence of 0.1mM Cu(II) ions. At a similar Cu(II) concentration, a progressive transformation of covalently closed circular (CCC) (form-I) plasmid pBR322 DNA to forms-II and -III was noticed with increasing tetracycline concentrations. The results obtained with the free-radical quenchers viz. mannitol, thiourea, sodium benzoate and superoxide dismutase (SOD) suggested the involvement of reactive oxygen species in the DNA strand breakage. It is concluded that the tetracycline-Cu(II)-induced DNA damage occurs due to (i) significant binding of tetracycline and Cu(II) with DNA, (ii) methyl group transfer from tetracycline to the putative sites on nitrogenous bases, and (iii) metal ion catalyzed free-radical generation in close vicinity of DNA backbone upon tetracycline photosensitization. Albeit, the DNA alkylation and strand cleavage are repairable lesions, but any defect in the critical repair pathway may augment the damage accumulation and mutagenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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