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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2011 Apr 14;13(14):6471-83. doi: 10.1039/c0cp02783a. Epub 2011 Mar 7.

Quantum mechanics study and Monte Carlo simulation on the hydrolytic deamination of 5-methylcytosine glycol.

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College of Chemistry, Key Laboratory of Green Chemistry and Technology in Ministry of Education, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064, People's Republic of China.


The efficient formation of 5-methylcytosine glycol (mCg) and its facile deamination to thymine glycol (Tg) may account for the prevalent C → T transition mutation found at methylated CpG site (mCpG) in human p53 gene, a hallmark for many types of human tumors. In this work, the hydrolytic deamination of mCg was investigated at the MP2 and B3LYP levels of theory using the 6-311G(d,p) basis set. In the gas phase, three pathways were explored, paths A-C, and it indicates that the direct deamination of mCg with H(2)O by either pathway is unlikely because of the high activation free energies involved in the rate-determining steps, the formation of the tetrahedral intermediate for paths A and B as well as the formation of the Tg tautomer for path C. In aqueous solution, the role of the water molecules in the deamination of mCg with H(2)O was analyzed in two separate parts: the direct participation of one water molecule in the reaction pathway, called the water-assisted mechanism; and the complementary participation of the aqueous solvation. The water-assisted mechanism was carried out for mCg and the cluster of two water molecules by quantum mechanical calculations in the gas phase. This indicates that the presence of the auxiliary water molecule significantly contributes to decreasing all the activation free energies. The bulk solution effect on the water-assisted mechanism was included by free energy perturbation implemented on Monte Carlo simulations, which is found to be substantial and decisive in the deamination mechanism of mCg. In this case, the water-assisted path A is the most plausible mechanism reported for the deamination of mCg, where the calculated activation free energy (22.6 kcal mol(-1) at B3LYP level of theory) agrees well with the experimentally determined activation free energy (24.8 kcal mol(-1)). The main striking results of the present DFT computational study which is in agreement with previous experimental data is the higher rate of deamination displayed by mCg residues with respect to 5-methylcytosine (mC) bases, which supports that the deamination of mCg contributes significantly to the C → T transition mutation at mCpG dinucleotide site.

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