Hypochlorite-induced damage to DNA, RNA, and polynucleotides: formation of chloramines and nitrogen-centered radicals

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Stimulated monocytes and neutrophils generate hypochlorite (HOCl) via the release of the enzyme myeloperoxidase and hydrogen peroxide. HOCl is a key bactericidal agent, but can also damage host tissue. As there is a strong link between chronic inflammation and some cancers, we have investigated HOCl damage to DNA, RNA, and polynucleotides. Reaction of HOCl with these materials is shown to yield multiple semistable chloramines (RNHCl/RR'NCl), which are the major initial products, and account for 50-95% of the added HOCl. These chloramines decay by thermal and metal-ion catalyzed processes, to give nucleoside-derived, nitrogen-centered, radicals. The latter have been characterized by EPR spin trapping. The propensity for radical formation with polynucleotides is cytidine > adenosine = guanosine > uridine = thymidine. The rates of decay, and yield of radicals formed, are dependent on the nature of the nucleobase on which they are formed, with chloramines formed from ring heterocyclic amine groups being less stable than those formed on exocyclic amines (RNH2 groups). Evidence is presented for chlorine transfer from the former, kinetically favored, sites to the more thermodynamically favored exocyclic amines. EPR experiments have also provided evidence for the rapid addition of pyrimidine-derived nitrogen-centered radicals to other nucleobases to give dimers and the oxidation of DNA by radicals derived from preformed nucleoside chloramines. Direct reaction of HOCl with plasmid DNA gives rise to single- and double-strand breaks via chloramine-mediated reactions. Preformed nucleoside chloramines also induce plasmid cleavage, though this only occurs to a significant extent with unstable thymidine- and uridine-derived chloramines, where radical formation is rapid. Overall the data rationalize the preferential formation of chlorinated 2'-deoxycytidine and 2'-deoxyadenosine in DNA and suggest that DNA damage induced by HOCl, and preformed chloramines, occurs at sequence-specific sites.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Research in Toxicology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002

    Research areas

  • Chloramines, DNA, DNA Damage, Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy, Hypochlorous Acid, Polynucleotides, RNA

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