Methylation of cytosine at C5 in a CpG sequence context causes a conformational switch of a benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide-N2-guanine adduct in DNA from a minor groove alignment to intercalation with base displacement

Na Zhang, Chin Lin, Xuanwei Huang, Aleksandr Kolbanovskiy, Brian E. Hingerty, Shantu Amin, Suse Broyde, Nicholas E. Geacintov, Dinshaw J. Patel

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It is well known that CpG dinucleotide steps in DNA, which are highly methylated at the 5-position of cytosine (meC) in human tissues, exhibit a disproportionate number of mutations within certain codons of the p53 gene. There is ample published evidence indicating that the reactivity of guanine with anti-B[a]PDE (a metabolite of the environmental carcinogen benzo[a]pyrene) at CpG mutation hot spots is enhanced by the methylation of the cytosine residue flanking the target guanine residue on the 5′-side. In this work we demonstrate that such a methylation can also dramatically affect the conformational characteristics of an adduct derived from the reaction of one of the two enantiomers of anti-B[a]PDE with the exocyclic amino group of guanine ([BP]G adduct). A detailed NMR study indicates that the 10R (-)-trans-anti-[BP]G adduct undergoes a transition from a minor groove-binding alignment of the aromatic BP ring system in the unmethylated C-[BP]G sequence context, to an intercalative BP alignment with a concomitant displacement of the modified guanine residue into the minor groove in the methylated meC-[BP]G sequence context. By contrast, a minor groove-binding alignment was observed for the stereoisomeric 10S (+)-trans-anti-[BP]G adduct in both the C-[BP]G and meC-[BP]G sequence contexts. This remarkable conformational switch resulting from the presence of a single methyl group at the 5-position of the cytosine residue flanking the lesion on the 5′-side, is attributed to the hydrophobic effect of the methyl group that can stabilize intercalated adduct conformations in an adduct stereochemistry-dependent manner. Such conformational differences in methylated and unmethylated CpG sequences may be significant because of potential alterations in the cellular processing of the [BP]G adducts by DNA transcription, replication, and repair enzymes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-965
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 4 2005


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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