Toward a greater appreciation of noncovalent chemical/DNA interactions: application of biological and computational approaches

Environ Mol Mutagen. Mar-Apr 2005;45(2-3):100-5. doi: 10.1002/em.20096.


Noncovalent DNA interactions, e.g., DNA intercalation and DNA groove-binding, have not been well studied relative to covalent interactions largely due to the inability of predicting and detecting such events in intact cells. We have adapted an in vitro bleomycin amplification method for DNA intercalation for use in cultured V79 Chinese hamster cells and have validated this approach through the use of a three-dimensional DNA computational docking model that quantifies potential strength of DNA intercalative binding based on electrostatics and hydrogen bonding. For many structural classes of molecules, DNA intercalation is necessary but not sufficient for genotoxicity. The present article reviews our progress to date in predicting and confirming noncovalent binding of drugs and other chemicals and in understanding the mechanistic relationship between intercalation and genotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Intercalating Agents / chemistry
  • Intercalating Agents / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Mutagens / chemistry
  • Mutagens / metabolism*
  • Static Electricity


  • Intercalating Agents
  • Mutagens
  • DNA