Monte carlo simulations of site-specific radical attack to DNA bases

Radiat Res. 2008 Feb;169(2):223-31. doi: 10.1667/RR0293.1.


An atomistic biophysical model permitting the calculation of initial attacks to a 38-bp representation of B-DNA base moieties by water radicals is presented. This model is based on a previous radiation damage model developed by Aydogan et al. (Radiat. Res. 157, 38-44, 2002). Absolute efficiencies for radical attack to the 38-bp DNA molecule are calculated to be 41, 0.8 and 15% for hydroxyl radical ((.)OH), hydrogen radical (H(.)), and hydrated electron (e(aq))(,) respectively. Among the nucleobases, guanine is found to have the highest percentage (.)OH attack probability at 36%. Adenine, cytosine and thymine moieties have initial attack probabilities of 24, 18 and 22%, respectively. A systematic study is performed to investigate (.)OH attack probabilities at each specified attack site in four molecular models including free bases, single nucleotides, single base pairs, and the central eight base pairs of the 38-bp DNA molecule. Cytosine is the free base moiety for which the closest agreement is observed between the model prediction and the experimental data. The initial (.)OH attack probabilities for cytosine as the free base are calculated to be 72 and 28%, while experimental data are reported at 87 and 13% for the C5 and C6 positions on the base, respectively. In this study, we incorporated atomic charges to scale the site-specific (.)OH reaction rates at the individual atomic positions on the pyrimidine and purine bases. Future updates to the RIDNA model will include the use of electron densities to scale the reaction rates. With respect to reactions of the aqueous electron with DNA, a comparison of the initial distribution of electron attack sites calculated in this study and experimental results suggests an extremely rapid and extensive redistribution of the e(-)(aq) after their initial reactions with DNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA / radiation effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Free Radicals / chemistry*
  • Free Radicals / radiation effects*
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Nucleotides / chemistry*
  • Radiation Dosage


  • Free Radicals
  • Nucleotides
  • DNA