Turn-on DNA damage sensors for the direct detection of 8-oxoguanine and photoproducts in native DNA

J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Aug 17;133(32):12518-27. doi: 10.1021/ja1116606. Epub 2011 May 17.


The integrity of the genetic information in all living organisms is constantly threatened by a variety of endogenous and environmental insults. To counter this risk, the DNA-damage response is employed for repairing lesions and maintaining genomic integrity. However, an aberrant DNA-damage response can potentially lead to genetic instability and mutagenesis, carcinogenesis, or cell death. To directly monitor DNA damage events in the context of native DNA, we have designed two new sensors utilizing genetically fragmented firefly luciferase (split luciferase). The sensors are comprised of a methyl-CpG binding domain (MBD) attached to one fragment of split luciferase for localizing the sensor to DNA (50-80% of the CpG dinucleotide sites in the genome are symmetrically methylated at cytosines), while a damage-recognition domain is attached to the complementary fragment of luciferase to probe adjacent nucleotides for lesions. Specifically, we utilized oxoguanine glycosylase 1 (OGG1) to detect 8-oxoguanine caused by exposure to reactive oxygen species and employed the damaged-DNA binding protein 2 (DDB2) for detection of pyrimidine dimer photoproducts induced by UVC light. These two sensors were optimized and validated using oligonucleotides, plasmids, and mammalian genomic DNA, as well as HeLa cells that were systematically exposed to a variety of environmental insults, demonstrating that this methodology utilizing MBD-directed DNA localization provides a simple, sensitive, and potentially general approach for the rapid profiling of specific chemical modifications associated with DNA damage and repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods*
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Glycosylases / metabolism
  • Fireflies / genetics
  • Guanine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Guanine / analysis
  • Guanine / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Luciferases, Firefly / genetics
  • Photolysis
  • Pyrimidine Dimers / analysis*
  • Pyrimidine Dimers / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Pyrimidine Dimers
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • 8-hydroxyguanine
  • Guanine
  • DNA
  • Luciferases, Firefly
  • DNA Glycosylases