Mechanism of synergistic DNA damage induced by the hydroquinone metabolite of brominated phenolic environmental pollutants and Cu(II): Formation of DNA-Cu complex and site-specific production of hydroxyl radicals

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2,6-Dibromohydroquinone (2,6-DBrHQ) has been identified as an reactive metabolite of many brominated phenolic environmental pollutants such as tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA), bromoxynil and 2,4,6-tribromophenol, and was also found as one of disinfection byproducts in drinking water. In this study, we found that the combination of 2,6-DBrHQ and Cu(II) together could induce synergistic DNA damage as measured by double strand breakage in plasmid DNA and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) formation, while either of them alone has no effect. 2,6-DBrHQ/Cu(II)-induced DNA damage could be inhibited by the Cu(I)-specific chelating agent bathocuproine disulfonate and catalase, but not by superoxide dismutase, nor by the typical hydroxyl radical (•OH) scavengers such as DMSO and mannitol. Interestingly, we found that Cu(II)/Cu(I) could be combined with DNA to form DNA-Cu(II)/Cu(I) complex by complementary application of low temperature direct ESR, circular dichroism, cyclic voltammetry and oxygen consumption methods; and the highly reactive •OH were produced synergistically by DNA-bound-Cu(I) with H2O2 produced by the redox reactions between 2,6-DBrHQ and Cu(II), which then immediately attack DNA in a site-specific manner as demonstrated by both fluorescent method and by ESR spin-trapping studies. Further DNA sequencing investigations provided more direct evidence that 2,6-DBrHQ/Cu(II) caused preferential cleavage at guanine, thymine and cytosine residues. Based on these data, we proposed that the synergistic DNA damage induced by 2,6-DBrHQ/Cu(II) might be due to the synergistic and site-specific production of •OH near the binding site of copper and DNA. Our findings may have broad biological and environmental implications for future research on the carcinogenic polyhalogenated phenolic compounds.

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