Effects of Benzo[a]pyrene−Deoxyguanosine Lesions on DNA Methylation Catalyzed by EcoRII DNA Methyltransferase and on DNA Cleavage Effected by EcoRII Restriction Endonuclease

DNA methylation is an important cellular mechanism for controlling gene expression. Whereas the mutagenic properties of many DNA adducts, e.g., those arising from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, have been widely studied, little is known about their influence on DNA methylation. We have constructed site-specifically modified 18-mer oligodeoxynucleotide duplexes containing a pair of stereoisomeric adducts derived from a benzo[a]pyrene-derived diol epoxide [(+)- and (−)-r7,t8-dihydroxy-t9,10-epoxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo[a]pyrene, or B[a]PDE] bound to the exocyclic amino group of guanine. The adducts, either (+)- or (−)-trans-anti-B[a]P−N2-dG (G*), positioned either at the 5‘-side or the 3‘-side deoxyguanosine residue in the recognition sequence of EcoRII restriction-modification enzymes (5‘-...CCA/TGG...) were incorporated into 18-mer oligodeoxynucleotide duplexes. The effects of these lesions on complex formation and the catalytic activity of the EcoRII DNA methyltransferase (M.EcoRII) and EcoRII restriction endonuclease (R.EcoRII) were investigated. The M.EcoRII catalyzes the transfer of a methyl group to the C5 position of the 3‘-side cytosine of each strand of the recognition sequence, whereas R.EcoRII catalyzes cleavage of both strands. The binding of R.EcoRII to the oligodeoxynucleotide duplexes and the catalytic cleavage were completely abolished when G* was positioned at the 3‘-side dG position (5‘-...CCTGG*...). When G* was at the 5‘-side dG position, binding was moderately diminished, but cleavage was completely blocked. In the case of M.EcoRII, binding is diminished by factors of 5−30 but the catalytic activity was either abolished or reduced 4−80-fold when the adducts were located at either position. Somewhat smaller effects were observed with hemimethylated oligodeoxynucleotide duplexes. These findings suggest that epigenetic effects, in addition to genotoxic effects, need to be considered in chemical carcinogenesis initiated by B[a]PDE, since the inhibition of methylation may allow the expression of genes that promote tumor development.