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Mutagenesis. 2013 Nov;28(6):637-44. doi: 10.1093/mutage/get041. Epub 2013 Aug 13.

Evidence for different mechanisms of action behind the mutagenic effects of 4-NOPD and OPD: the role of DNA damage, oxidative stress and an imbalanced nucleotide pool.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, SE-751 24 Uppsala, Sweden and.


The mutagenicity of 4-nitro-o-phenylenediamine (4-NOPD) and o-phenylenediamine (OPD) was compared using the Mouse Lymphoma Assay (MLA) with or without metabolic activation (S9). As expected, OPD was found to be a more potent mutagen than 4-NOPD. To evaluate possible mechanisms behind their mutagenic effects, the following end points were also monitored in cells that had been exposed to similar concentrations of the compounds as in the MLA: general DNA damage (using a standard protocol for the Comet assay); oxidative DNA damage (using a modified procedure for the Comet assay in combination with the enzyme hOGG1); reactive oxygen species (ROS; using the CM-H2DCFDA assay); and the balance of the nucleotide pool (measured after conversion to the corresponding nucleosides dC, dT, dG and dA using high-performance liquid chromatography). Both compounds increased the level of general DNA damage. Again, OPD was found to be more potent than 4-NOPD (which only increased the level of general DNA damage in the presence of S9). Although less obvious for OPD, both compounds increased the level of oxidative DNA damage. However, an increase in intracellular ROS was only observed in cells exposed to 4-NOPD, both with and without S9 (which in itself induced oxidative stress). Both compounds decreased the concentrations of dA, dT and dC. A striking effect of OPD was the sharp reduction of dA observed already at very low concentration, both with and without S9 (which in itself affected the precursor pool). Taken together, our results indicate that indirect effects on DNA, possibly related to an unbalanced nucleotide pool, mediate the mutagenicity and DNA-damaging effects of 4-NOPD and OPD to a large extent. Although induction of intracellular oxidative stress seems to be a possible mechanism behind the genotoxicity of 4-NOPD, this pathway seems to be of less importance for the more potent mutagen OPD.

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