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Alkylating agent and chromatin structure determine sequence context-dependent formation of alkylpurines11Edited by I. Tinoco

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We determined the adduct maps of S(N)1 and S(N)2 alkylating agents in cultured human cells (in vivo) and in vitro to probe DNA-protein interactions along sequences of the promoter and exon 1 of the Fragile-X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene. Using ligation-mediated polymerase chain reaction (LMPCR), we compared the piperidine-sensitive alkylpurines sites generated by treating cultured cells (in vivo) and naked DNA (in vitro) with S(N)1 (N-methyl-N-nitrosourea, N-nitroso(acetoxymethyl)methylamine and 1-methyl-3-nitro-1-nitrosoguanidine) and S(N)2 alkylating agents (dimethyl sulfate (DMS), methane sulfonic acid methyl ester, iodo methane, diethyl sulfate, methane sulfonic acid ethyl ester and iodo ethane). The FMR1 promoter has four sites where DNA-protein interactions are observed. In these regions, the S(N)1 methylating agent reactions produced only hypo-reactive sites. In contrast, iodoalkane S(N)2 alkylating agents (MeI and EtI) reactions generated only hyper-reactive sites. Although there are hyper-reactive sites for the other S(N)2 reagents, the hyper-reactive site at +14 on the FMR1 map is more pronounced for the sulfate and sulfonate-derived alkylating agents than for the iodoalkanes. However, DMS modification in the presence of methyl sulfone, a compound that does not alkylate DNA, eliminates the hyper-reactive site observed at +14. This suggests that the electron-rich oxygen atoms of the sulfate and sulfonate-derived S(N)2 alkylating agent structure position the alkylating moiety to the neighboring N-7-guanine position to favor alkyl transfer to the guanine. Using KMnO(4) to probe for single-strand DNA, an unpaired cytosine base was detected at the 5'-side of the hyper- reactive guanine base at position +14, consistent with the formation of a local DNA single-strand bulge. In conclusion, we show that the sequence context-dependent formation of alkylpurines is determined by the chemical nature of the alkylating agent, the DNA sequence context, chromatin structure, and the presence of other non-reactive molecules that can inhibit alkylation.

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