The Use of Automated Sequencing Techniques to Investigate the Sequence Selectivity of DNA-Damaging Agents


Corresponding author: Vincent Murray,


In this review, the use of automated DNA sequencing techniques to determine the sequence specificity of compounds that interact with DNA is discussed. The sequence specificity of a DNA-damaging agent is an essential element in determining the cellular mechanism of action of a drug. A number of DNA-damaging compounds are mutagenic, carcinogenic, as well as being widely used as cancer chemotherapeutic agents. The distribution of lesions in a sequence of DNA can give vital clues in the determination of the precise mechanism of interaction of the agent with DNA. The DNA sequence specificity of a number of DNA-damaging agents has been delineated using automated DNA sequencing technology, and these studies are discussed in this review. The current state-of-the-art methodology involves capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection usually on an Applied Biosystems ABI 3730 capillary sequencer. This current technique has higher resolution, greater sensitivity, higher precision, more rapid separation times, is safer and easier to perform than previous methods. The two main methods to determine the DNA sequence selectivity of compounds that interact with DNA are described: end labelling and the polymerase stop assay. The interaction of the antitumour drug, bleomycin, with DNA is utilized to illustrate the recent technological advances.