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Chem Res Toxicol. 1998 Feb;11(2):150-7.

DNA alkylation by 4,5-dioxovaleric acid, the final oxidation product of 5-aminolevulinic acid.

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Département de Recherche Fondamentale sur la Matière Condensée, SCIB Laboratoire Lésions des Acides Nucléiques, CEA, Grenoble, France.


The heme precursor 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) accumulates under pathological conditions, namely, acute intermittent porphyria (AIP) and tyrosinosis, two diseases that are associated with increased liver cancer incidence. This has been previously linked to an enhanced production of reactive oxygen species generated by a metal-catalyzed ALA oxidation process, which was shown to cause DNA single-strand breaks and guanine oxidation within both isolated and cellular DNA. In the present work, we established that the final oxidation product of ALA, 4,5-dioxovaleric acid (DOVA), is an efficient alkylating agent of the guanine moieties within both nucleoside and isolated DNA. Adducts were produced through the formation of a Schiff base involving the N2-amino group of 2'-deoxyguanosine (dGuo) and the ketone function of DOVA, respectively. The modified dGuo nucleosides were characterized, following reduction into stable secondary amines, by extensive NMR, infrared, and mass spectrometry analyses. A method, based on the use of HPLC with electrochemical detection, was then developed for the sensitive measurement of the DOVA-dGuo adducts. Using this assay, we showed that the guanine moieties of isolated DNA can undergo the same reaction as the free nucleoside. The present data provide additional information on the genotoxic potential of ALA and reinforce the hypothesis that AIP may be involved in the induction of primary liver cell carcinoma.

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