Decomposition of halogenated nucleobases by surface plasmon resonance excitation of gold nanoparticles

Marques, Telma S.; Śmiałek, Małgorzata A.; Schürmann, Robin; Bald, Ilko; Raposo, Maria; Eden, Sam and Mason, Nigel J. (2020). Decomposition of halogenated nucleobases by surface plasmon resonance excitation of gold nanoparticles. The European Physical Journal D, 74(11), article no. 222.



Halogenated uracil derivatives are of great interest in modern cancer therapy, either as chemotherapeutics or radiosensitisers depending on their halogen atom. This work applies UV-Vis spectroscopy to study the radiation damage of uracil, 5-bromouracil and 5-fluorouracil dissolved in water in the presence of gold nanoparticles upon irradiation with an Nd:YAG ns-pulsed laser operating at 532 nm at different fluences. Gold nanoparticles absorb light efficiently by their surface plasmon resonance and can significantly damage DNA in their vicinity by an increase of temperature and the generation of reactive secondary species, notably radical fragments and low energy electrons. A recent study using the same experimental approach characterized the efficient laser-induced decomposition of the pyrimidine ring structure of 5-bromouracil mediated by the surface plasmon resonance of gold nanoparticles. The present results show that the presence of irradiated gold nanoparticles decomposes the ring structure of uracil and its halogenated derivatives with similar efficiency. In addition to the fragmentation of the pyrimidine ring, for 5-bromouracil the cleavage of the carbon-halogen bond could be observed, whereas for 5-fluorouracil this reaction channel was inhibited. Locally-released halogen atoms can react with molecular groups within DNA, hence this result indicates a specific mechanism by which doping with 5-bromouracil can enhance DNA damage in the proximity of laser irradiated gold nanoparticles. Graphical abstract:

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