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Nucleic Acids Res. 1995 Aug 25;23(16):3239-43.

Oxidative damage to 5-methylcytosine in DNA.

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  • 1Department of Biology, New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, New York 10003, USA.


Exposure of pyrimidines of DNA to ionizing radiation under aerobic conditions or oxidizing agents results in attack on the 5,6 double bond of the pyrimidine ring or on the exocyclic 5-methyl group. The primary product of oxidation of the 5,6 double bond of thymine is thymine glycol, while oxidation of the 5-methyl group yields 5-hydroxymethyluracil. Oxidation of the 5,6 double bond of cytosine yields cytosine glycol, which decomposes to 5-hydroxycytosine, 5-hydroxyuracil and uracil glycol, all of which are repaired in DNA by Escherichia coli endonuclease III. We now describe the products of oxidation of 5-methylcytosine in DNA. Poly(dG-[3H]dmC) was gamma-irradiated or oxidized with hydrogen peroxide in the presence of Fe3+ and ascorbic acid. The oxidized co-polymer was incubated with endonuclease III or 5-hydroxymethyluracil-DNA glycosylase, to determine whether repairable products were formed, or digested to 2'-deoxyribonucleosides, to determine the total complement of oxidative products. Oxidative attack on 5-methylcytosine resulted primarily in formation of thymine glycol. The radiogenic yield of thymine glycol in poly(dG-dmC) was the same as that in poly(dA-dT), demonstrating that 5-methylcytosine residues in DNA were equally susceptible to radiation-induced oxidation as were thymine residues.

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