Metabolism and DNA binding studies are used to investigate mechanisms of activation for carcinogens. In this paper we describe metabolism of benzo[a]pyrene (BP) and 6-fluorobenzoa]pyrene (6-FBP) by two peroxidases, horseradish peroxidase (HRP) and prostaglandin H synthase (PHS), which are known to catalyze one-electron oxidation. In addition, binding of BP and BP quinones to DNA was compared in the two enzyme systems. The only metabolites formed from BP or 6-FBP by either enzyme were the quinones, BP 1,6-, 3,6- and 6,12-dione. HRP metabolized BP and 6-FBP to the same extent and produced the same proportion of each dione from both compounds, approximately 40% each of BP 1,6- and 3,6-dione and 20% BP 6,12-dione. PHS formed twice as much quinones from BP as from 6-FBP and produced relatively more BP 3,6-dione from 6-FBP (46%) compared to BP (30%) and relatively less BP 6,12-dione from 6-FBP (16%) compared to BP (33%). Removal of the fluoro substituent in the metabolism of 6-FBP is consistent only with an initial one-electron oxidation of the substrate. Since BP quinones were the only products formed in HRP- and PHS-catalyzed activation of BP, their possible binding to DNA was compared to that of BP. No significant binding of BP quinones to DNA occurred with either HRP or PHS. These results, coupled with those from other chemical and biochemical experiments, demonstrate that HRP- and PHS-catalyzed one-electron oxidation of BP to its radical cation is the mechanism of formation of quinones and binding of BP to DNA.
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