Copper- and Arene-Catalyzed Cleavage of DNA

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DNA was found to be cleaved by arenes and copper(II) salts in neutral solutions. The efficiency of this reaction is comparable with the DNA cleavage by such systems as Cu(II)–phenanthroline and Cu(II)–ascorbic acid in efficiency, but, unlike them, it does not require the presence of an exogenous reducing agent or hydrogen peroxide. The Cu2+–arene system does not cleave DNA under anaerobic conditions. Catalase, sodium azide as well as bathocuproine, a specific chelator of Cu(I), completely inhibit the reaction. Our results suggest that Cu(I) ions, superoxide radical and singlet oxygen participate in this reaction. It was shown by EPR and spin traps that the reaction proceeds with the formation of alkoxyl radicals capable of inducing breaks in DNA molecules. An efficient cleavage of DNA in the Cu(II)–o-bromobenzoic acid system requires the generation of radicals under the conditions of formation of a specific copper–DNA–o-bromobenzoic acid complex, in which copper ions are likely to be coordinated with oxygen atoms of the DNA phosphate groups.

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