Differential dependence on chromatin structure for copper and iron ion induction of DNA double-strand breaks

Biochemistry. 1995 Feb 28;34(8):2653-61. doi: 10.1021/bi00008a032.


The induction of DNA DSB (double-strand breaks) in isolated nuclear chromatin by Cu(II) or Fe(II)-EDTA in the presence of H2O2 and ascorbate has been compared to DSB induction by gamma-radiation. V79 nuclei embedded in agarose plugs were treated with each agent on ice, and the resultant DNA fragments were analyzed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. In the absence of low molecular weight radical scavengers, both irradiation and treatment with iron ion induced random DSB, as judged by the size distribution of DNA fragments, and the yield of DSB in each case was enhanced by either the expansion of chromatin (approximately 5-fold) or the removal of histones (21-25-fold) before treatment. In contrast, treatment with Cu(II) produced small DNA fragments of uniform size (approximately 100-200 kbp), independent of the yield of DSB. In addition, neither the DNA fragment size nor the yield of DSB produced by Cu(II) was affected by the prior removal of histones from chromatin. Deproteinized DNA was degraded randomly by Cu(II) but at a slower rate than observed for chromatin. In the presence of ascorbate, H2O2 was found to be essential for DSB induction by Fe(II)-EDTA but not by Cu(II), possibly because H2O2 can be produced from ascorbate and Cu(II) in the presence of oxygen. Despite the above differences between the production of DSB by the two metal ions, DSB induction in native chromatin by either metal ion was blocked by 0.1 M EDTA or 0.25 M thiourea but was resistant to the hydroxyl radical scavengers 0.25 M DMSO and 0.25 M mannitol.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatin / chemistry*
  • Chromatin / drug effects*
  • Chromatin / radiation effects
  • Copper / pharmacology*
  • Cricetinae
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / drug effects*
  • DNA / radiation effects
  • DNA Damage
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Gamma Rays
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Hydroxyl Radical / chemistry
  • Iron / pharmacology*
  • Molecular Structure


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Hydroxyl Radical
  • Copper
  • DNA
  • Iron