Effect of UVC-Induced Damage to DNA on the Intercalation of Thiazole Orange: A Convenient Reporter for DNA Damage


  • This paper is part of a symposium-in-print dedicated to Professor Eduardo A. Lissi on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

*email: tito@photo.chem.uottawa.ca (J. C. Scaiano)


We report a novel method of identifying damage to DNA leading to the loss of intercalation sites. Thiazole orange (TO), an intercalating cyanine dye, fluoresces strongly when intercalated in DNA, but not free in solution. Upon UVC-induced damage to DNA, the change in TO fluorescence is greater than the change in any of the other spectral or biochemical indicators (absorbance, circular dichroism and agarose gel electrophoresis), thus providing a fast screening method to identify damage to DNA. The method is geared toward high levels of damage, such as those that may result during radiation treatment of food products.