Chemical carcinogens such as the aromatic amide 2-acetylaminofluorene (AAF) are known to induce -1 frameshift mutation hotspots at repetitive sequences. This mutagenesis pathway was suggested to involve slipped intermediates formed during replication. To investigate the stability and structure of such intermediates we have constructed DNA duplexes containing single AAF adducts within a run of three guanine residues. The strand complementary to that bearing the AAF adducts contained either the wild-type sequence (homoduplexes) or lacked one cytosine directly opposite the run of guanines containing the AAF adduct and thus modeled the putative slipped mutagenic intermediates (SMIs). The melting temperature of AAF-modified homoduplexes or the unmodified SMI was reduced by ≈10°C relative to the unmodified homoduplex. Surprisingly, AAF adducts stabilized the SMIs as evidenced by an increase in melting temperature to a level approaching that of the unmodified homoduplex. The chemical probes hydroxylamine and bromoacetaldehyde were strongly reactive toward cytosine residues opposite the adduct in AAF-modified homoduplexes, indicating adduct-induced denaturation. In contrast, no cytosine reactivities were observed in the AAF-modified SMIs, suggesting that the two cytosines were paired with unmodified guanines. Use of diethyl pyrocarbonate to probe the guanine residues showed that all three guanines in the unmodified SMI adopted a transient single-stranded state which was delocalized along the repetitive sequence. However, when an AAF adduct was present, reduced diethyl pyrocarbonate reactivity at guanines adjacent to the adduct in AAF-modified SMIs reflected localization of the bulge to the adducted base. Our results suggest that AAF exerts a local denaturing and destabilizing effect within the homoduplex which is alleviated by the formation of a bulge. The stabilization by the AAF adduct of the SMIs may contribute to the dramatic increase in -1 frameshift mutation frequency induced by AAF adducts in repetitive sequences.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Department of Biology

Garcia, A. (Angela), Lambert, I, & Fuchs, R.P.P. (Robert P. P.). (1993). DNA adduct-induced stabilization of slipped frameshift intermediates within repetitive sequences: Implications for mutagenesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 90(13), 5989–5993.