I n vitro experiments to study interaction of the mutagenic flavonoid quercetin with DNA are described. Calf thymus DNA treated with quercetin for various time periods was subjected to S 1 nuclease hydrolysis. Thermal melting profles of treated DNA were also determined using St nuclease. The rate of DNA hydrolyzed after 1 hr of pre-treatment with quercetin was found to be only about 50% of that in its absence. However, after 10 and 24hrs of treatment with the drug, the rate of S 1 nuclease hydrolysis was observed to be greater than that of native DNA. Thermal melting profiles of DNA, treated with quercetin for 10 and 24 hrs, indicated a slight decrease in melting temperatures. Gel filtration of native DNA, which had been digested with S 1 nuclease after preincubation with quercetin for 24 hrs, indicated the production of various sized degraded molecules. The results suggest that the initial interaction of quercetin with DNA may have a stabilizing effect on its secondary structure, but prolonged treatment leads to an extensive disruption of the double helix.
S 1 nuclease hydrolysis and hydroxyapatite chromatography were used to study the effect of the alkylating antibiotic, streptozotocin, on the secondary structure of DNA. Native calf thymus DNA was alkylated in vitro with increasing concentrations of streptozotocin and subjected to S 1 nuclease hydrolysis. An increasing degree of DNA degradation was seen, suggesting a destabilization of the secondary structure. Indirect evidence, deduced from alkaline hydrolysis, effect of NaCl on S 1 nuclease hydrolysis, and hydroxyapatite chromatographic analysis of alkylated DNA, suggested a significant alkylation of DNA phosphates in addition to DNA bases. Nictotinamide has been reported to alter the cytotoxic and carcinogenic effects of streptozotocin. Our experiments indicate that in the presence of nicotinamide, streptozotocin causes the formation of a greater proportion of alkylated bases in relation to alkyl phosphotriesters. This may have significance in relation to the differential cytotoxicity of streptozotocin in the absence and presence of nicotinamide.
We have earlier reported that alkylation of DNA by the chemical carcinogen dimethyl sulphate, which mainly alkylates N-7 of guanine and N-3 of adenine, causes the formation of partially denatured regions in double-stranded DNA (Rizvi RY, Alvi NK & Hadi SM, Biosci. Rep. 2 , 315–322, 1982). It is known that the major site of alkylation in DNA by N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (EtNu) are the phosphate groups. N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MeNu), on the other hand, causes the alkylation of mainly guanine residues. We have therefore studied the effect of these two alkylating carcinogens on the secondary structure of DNA. DNA aikylated with increasing concentrations of EtNu and MeNu was subjected to alkaline and S 1 nuclease hydrolysis. Thermal melting profiles of alkylated DNA were also determined using S 1 nuclease. The results indicated that alkylation by the two alkylating agents had a differential effect on the secondary structure of DNA. EtNu-alkylated DNA was found to be more thermostable than native DNA at neutral pH. It was however more alkali-labile than MeNu-alkylated DNA. The greater stability of EtNu-alkylated DNA was considered to be due to abolition of negative charges on phosphate alkylation.