Alkylation of DNA and tissue specificity in nitrosamine carcinogenesis.

Journal of supramolecular structure and cellular biochemistry

PubMedID: 7328674

Montesano R. Alkylation of DNA and tissue specificity in nitrosamine carcinogenesis. J Supramol Struct Cell Biochem. 1982;17(3):259-73.
A peculiarity of nitrosamines is the high degree of cell and organ specificity in inducing tumors. There is substantial evidence that the initiation of the carcinogenesis process by carcinogens of this group is linked to the metabolic competence of the target tissue or cell to convert these carcinogens into mutagenic metabolites and to the binding of those metabolites to cellular DNA. Alkylation occurs in the DNA at the N-1, N-3, and N-7 positions of adenine; the N-3, N-7, and O6 of guanine; the N-3, and O2 of cytosine; and the N-3, O4, and O2 of thymine; and the phosphate groups. The initial proportion of each DNA adduct depends upon the alkylating agent used. The various DNA adducts are lost to a variable extent from DNA in vivo by spontaneous release of bases and/or by specific DNA repair processes. Studies conducted in vitro and vivo indicate that alkylation at the oxygen atoms of DNA bases is more critical than alkylation at other positions in the mutagenesis and carcinogenesis induced by N-nitroso compounds. In particular, tissues in which tumors occur more frequently after a pulse dose of nitrosamine are those in which O6-alkylguanine persists longest in DNA, presumably resulting in an increased probability that a miscoding event (mutation) will take place during DNA synthesis. The more rapid removal of O6-methylguanine from the DNA of liver (as compared with extrahepatic tissues) of rats has been associated with the absence of tumor production in this organ by a single dose of dimethylnitrosamine; however, a significant incidence of liver tumors is observed if the same dose is given 24 hr after partial hepatectomy, and tumors are induced by such a dose of dimethylnitrosamine in the liver of hamsters, which has a low capacity to remove O6-methylguanine from its DNA. These data also indicate that the rate of disappearance of 7-methylguanine from the liver or extrahepatic tissues is independent of the dose of dimethylnitrosamine; whereas O6-methylguanine is lost from DNA more rapidly after a low dose of this nitrosamine. It has been shown that in liver the removal of O6-methylguanine but not other DNA adducts, from DNA can be affected by pretreating the animals with N-nitroso compounds. The modulation of DNA repair processes observed after a single dose and after chronic treatment with nitrosamines is discussed in relation to the tissue-specific carcinogenic effect of this group of carcinogens.