Endogenous 5-methylcytosine protects neighboring guanines from N7 and O6-methylation and O6-pyridyloxobutylation by the tobacco carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone

Biochemistry. 2004 Jan 20;43(2):540-9. doi: 10.1021/bi035259j.


All CG dinucleotides along exons 5-8 of the p53 tumor suppressor gene contain endogenous 5-methylcytosine (MeC). These same sites (e.g., codons 157, 158, 245, 248, and 273) are mutational hot spots in smoking-induced lung cancer. Several groups used the UvrABC endonuclease incision assay to demonstrate that methylated CG dinucleotides of the p53 gene are the preferred binding sites for the diol epoxides of bay region polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). In contrast, effects of endogenous cytosine methylation on the distribution of DNA lesions induced by tobacco-specific nitrosamines, e.g., 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK), have not been elucidated. In the work presented here, a stable isotope labeling HPLC-ESI-MS/MS approach was employed to analyze the reactivity of the N7 and O6 positions of guanines within hemimethylated and fully methylated CG dinucleotides toward NNK-derived methylating and pyridyloxobutylating species. 15N3-labeled guanine bases were placed within synthetic DNA sequences representing endogenously methylated p53 codons 154, 157, and 248, followed by treatment with acetylated precursors to NNK diazohydroxides. HPLC-ESI-MS/MS analysis was used to determine the relative yields of N7- and O6-guanine adducts at the 15N3-labeled position. In all cases, the presence of MeC inhibited the formation of N7-methylguanine, O6-methylguanine, and O6-pyridyloxobutylguanine at a neighboring G, with the greatest decrease observed in fully methylated dinucleotides and at guanines preceded by MeC. Furthermore, the O6-Me-dG/N7-Me-G molar ratios were decreased in the presence of the 5'-neighboring MeC, suggesting that the observed decline in O6-alkylguanine adduct yields is, at least partially, a result of an altered reactivity pattern in methylated CG dinucleotides. These results indicate that, unlike N2-guanine adducts of PAH diol epoxides, NNK-induced N7- and O6-alkylguanine adducts are not preferentially formed at the endogenously methylated CG sites within the p53 tumor suppressor gene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 5-Methylcytosine / chemistry*
  • 5-Methylcytosine / physiology*
  • Base Sequence / drug effects
  • Carcinogens / chemistry
  • Carcinogens / pharmacology*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • DNA Adducts / chemistry
  • DNA Adducts / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation / drug effects*
  • Deoxyguanosine / chemistry
  • Deoxyguanosine / metabolism
  • Dimethylnitrosamine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Dimethylnitrosamine / pharmacology
  • Genes, p53 / drug effects
  • Guanine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Guanine / chemistry
  • Guanine / metabolism*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Nitrosamines / chemistry
  • Nitrosamines / pharmacology*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Tobacco* / chemistry


  • Carcinogens
  • DNA Adducts
  • Nitrosamines
  • O(6)-(4-oxo-4-(3-pyridyl)butyl)guanine
  • methyl(acetoxymethyl)nitrosamine
  • Guanine
  • 5-Methylcytosine
  • 4-(N-methyl-N-nitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone
  • Deoxyguanosine
  • Dimethylnitrosamine