Photochemical and Photobiotogical Studies with Acridine and Phenanthridine Hydroperoxides in Cell-free DNA


*Institute or Organic Chemistry, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, D-97074 Würzburg, Germany. Fax: (0931)8884756; e-mail:


Abstract— The acridine and phenanthridine hydroperoxides 3 and 7 were synthesized as photochemical hydroxyl radical sources for oxidative DNA damage studies. The generation of hydroxyl radicals upon UVA irradiation (Λ. = 350 nm) was verified by trapping experiments with 5,5-di-methyl-1-pyrroline N-oxide and benzene. The enzymatic assays of the damage in cell-free DNA from bacteriophage PM2 caused by the acridine and phenanthridine hydroperoxides 3 and 7 under near-UVA irradiation revealed a wide range of DNA modifications. Particularly, extensive single-strand break formation and DNA base modifications sensitive to formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg protein) were observed. In the photooxida-tion of calf thymus DNA, up to 0.69±0.03% 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine was formed by the hydroperoxides 3 and 7 on irradiation, whose yield was reduced up to 40% in the presence of the hydroxyl radical scavengers mannitol and fert-butanol. The acridine and phenanthridine hydroperoxides 3 and 7 also induce DNA damage through the type I photooxidation process, for which photoinduced electron transfer from 2′-deoxyguanosine to the singlet states of 3 and 7 was estimated by the Rehm-Weller equation to possess a negative Gibb's free energy of cα -5 kcal/ mol. Control experiments with the sensitizers acridine 1 and the acridine alcohol 4 in calf thymus and PM2 DNA confirmed the photosensitizing propensity of the UVA-ab-sorbing chromophores. The present study emphasizes that for the development of selective and efficient photochemical hydroxyl radical sources, chromophores with low photosensitizing ability must be chosen to avoid type I and type II photooxidation processes.