The role of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-DNA adducts in inducing mutations in mouse skin

Dhrubajyoti Chakravarti, Divya Venugopal, Paula C. Mailander, Jane L. Meza, Sheila Higginbotham, Ercole L. Cavalieri, Eleanor G. Rogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) form stable and depurinating DNA adducts in mouse skin to induce preneoplastic mutations. Some mutations transform cells, which then clonally expand to establish tumors. Strong clues about the mutagenic mechanism can be obtained if the PAH-DNA adducts can be correlated with both preneoplastic and tumor mutations. To this end, we studied mutagenesis in PAH-treated early preneoplastic skin (1 day after exposure) and in the induced papillomas in SENCAR mice. Papillomas were studied by PCR amplification of the H-ras gene and sequencing. For benzo[a]pyrene (BP), BP-7,8-dihydrodiol (BPDHD), 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) and dibenzo[a,l]pyrene (DB[a,l]P), the codon 13 (GGC to GTC) and codon 61 (CAA to CTA) mutations in papillomas corresponded to the relative levels of Gua and Ade-depurinating adducts, despite BP and BPDHD forming significant amounts of stable DNA adducts. Such a relationship was expected for DMBA and DB[a,l]P, as they formed primarily depurinating adducts. These results suggest that depurinating adducts play a major role in forming the tumorigenic mutations. To validate this correlation, preneoplastic skin mutations were studied by cloning H-ras PCR products and sequencing individual clones. DMBA- and DB[a,l]P-treated skin showed primarily A.T to G.C mutations, which correlated with the high ratio of the Ade/Gua-depurinating adducts. Incubation of skin DNA with T.G-DNA glycosylase eliminated most of these A.T to G.C mutations, indicating that they existed as G.T heteroduplexes, as would be expected if they were formed by errors in the repair of abasic sites generated by the depurinating adducts. BP and its metabolites induced mainly G.C to T.A mutations in preneoplastic skin. However, PCR over unrepaired anti-BPDE-N2dG adducts can generate similar mutations as artifacts of the study protocol, making it difficult to establish an adduct-mutation correlation for determining which BP-DNA adducts induce the early preneoplastic mutations. In conclusion, this study suggests that depurinating adducts play a major role in PAH mutagenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-178
Number of pages18
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 8 2008


  • H-ras
  • Mutations
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • SENCAR mouse skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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