UVA photoactivation of DNA containing halogenated thiopyrimidines induces cytotoxic DNA lesions

Brem, Reto; Zhang, Xiaohui; Xu, Yao-Zhong and Karran, Peter (2015). UVA photoactivation of DNA containing halogenated thiopyrimidines induces cytotoxic DNA lesions. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, 145(4) pp. 1–10.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2015.02.012


Photochemotherapy, the combination of a photosensitiser and ultraviolet (UV) or visible light, is an effective treatment for skin conditions including cancer. The high mutagenicity and non-selectivity of photochemotherapy regimes warrants the development of alternative approaches. We demonstrate that the thiopyrimidine nucleosides 5-bromo-4-thiodeoxyuridine (SBrdU) and 5-iodo-4-thiodeoxyuridine (SIdU) are incorporated into the DNA of cultured human and mouse cells where they synergistically sensitise killing by low doses of UVA radiation. The DNA halothiopyrimidine/UVA combinations induce DNA interstrand crosslinks, DNA-protein crosslinks, DNA strand breaks, nucleobase damage and lesions that resemble UV-induced pyrimidine(6-4)pyrimidone photoproducts. These are potentially lethal DNA lesions and cells defective in their repair are hypersensitive to killing by SBrdU/UVA and SIdU/UVA. DNA SIdU and SBrdU generate lethal DNA photodamage by partially distinct mechanisms that reflect the different photolabilities of their C–I and C–Br bonds. Although singlet oxygen is involved in photolesion formation, DNA SBrdU and SIdU photoactivation does not detectably increase DNA 8-oxoguanine levels. The absence of significant collateral damage to normal guanine suggests that UVA activation of DNA SIdU or SBrdU might offer a strategy to target hyperproliferative skin conditions that avoids the extensive formation of a known mutagenic DNA lesion.

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