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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Feb 15;91(4):1261-4.

Free radical adducts induce alterations in DNA cytosine methylation.

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Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL 60611.


Methylation of cytosines in DNA is important for the regulation of expression of many genes. During carcinogenesis, normal patterns of gene methylation can be altered. Oxygen radical injury, shown to damage DNA in a variety of ways associated with cancer development and other conditions, has been suggested to affect DNA methylation, but a mechanism has not been demonstrated. Using oligonucleotides containing the common oxygen radical adduct 8-hydroxyguanine to replace guanine, we found that the enzymatic methylation of adjacent cytosines is profoundly altered. Furthermore, there is a high degree of positional specificity with respect to this effect. Thus, free radical injury may explain some of the altered methylation observed during carcinogenesis.

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