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Free Radic Biol Med. 2013 Jul;60:177-82. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2013.01.010. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Potent methyl oxidation of 5-methyl-2'-deoxycytidine by halogenated quinoid carcinogens and hydrogen peroxide via a metal-independent mechanism.

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State Key Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China.


Halogenated quinones are a class of carcinogenic intermediates and are newly identified chlorination disinfection by-products in drinking water. We found recently that the highly reactive and biologically important hydroxyl radical ((•)OH) can be produced by halogenated quinones and H2O2 independent of transition metal ions. However, it is not clear whether these quinoid carcinogens and H2O2 can oxidize the nucleoside 5-methyl-2'-deoxycytidine (5mdC) to its methyl oxidation products and, if so, what the underlying molecular mechanism is. Here we show that three methyl oxidation products, 5-(hydroperoxymethyl)-, 5-(hydroxymethyl)-, and 5-formyl-2'-deoxycytidine, could be produced when 5mdC was treated with tetrachloro-1,4-benzoquinone (TCBQ) and H2O2. The formation of the oxidation products was markedly inhibited by typical (•)OH scavengers and under anaerobic conditions. Analogous effects were observed with other halogenated quinones and the classic Fenton system. Based on these data, we propose that the oxidation of 5mdC by TCBQ/H2O2 might be through the following mechanism: (•)OH produced by TCBQ/H2O2 may first abstract hydrogen from the methyl group of 5mdC, leading to the formation of 5-(2'-deoxycytidylyl)methyl radical, which may combine with O2 to form the peroxyl radical. The unstable peroxyl radical transforms into the corresponding hydroperoxide 5-(hydroperoxymethyl)-2'-deoxycytidine, which reacts with TCBQ and results in the formation of 5-(hydroxymethyl)-2'-deoxycytidine and 5-formyl-2'-deoxycytidine. This is the first report that halogenated quinoid carcinogens and H2O2 can induce potent methyl oxidation of 5mdC via a metal-independent mechanism, which may partly explain their potential carcinogenicity.

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