American Chemical Society
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Mass Spectrometry-Based Method to Measure Aflatoxin B1 DNA Adducts in Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded Tissues

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-18, 15:38 authored by Medjda Bellamri, Lihua Yao, Rachana Tomar, Vladimir Vartanian, Carmelo J. Rizzo, Michael P. Stone, John D. Groopman, R. Stephen Lloyd, Robert J. Turesky
Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is a potent human liver carcinogen produced by certain molds, particularly Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, which contaminate peanuts, corn, rice, cottonseed, and ground and tree nuts, principally in warm and humid climates. AFB1 undergoes bioactivation in the liver to produce AFB1-exo-8,9-epoxide, which forms the covalently bound cationic AFB1N7-guanine (AFB1–N7-Gua) DNA adduct. This adduct is unstable and undergoes base-catalyzed opening of the guanine imidazolium ring to form two ring-opened diastereomeric 8,9-dihydro-8-(2,6-diamino-4-oxo-3,4-dihydropyrimid-5-yl-formamido)-9-hydroxy-aflatoxin B1 (AFB1–FapyGua) adducts. The AFB1 formamidopyrimidine (Fapy) adducts induce G → T transversion mutations and are likely responsible for the carcinogenic effects of AFB1. Quantitative liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS) methods have shown that AFB1N7-Gua is eliminated in rodent and human urine, whereas ring-opened AFB1–FapyGua adducts persist in rodent liver. However, fresh frozen biopsy tissues are seldom available for biomonitoring AFB1 DNA adducts in humans, impeding research advances in this potent liver carcinogen. In contrast, formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens used for histopathological analysis are often accessible for molecular studies. However, ensuring nucleic acid quality presents a challenge due to incomplete reversal of formalin-mediated DNA cross-links, which can preclude accurate quantitative measurements of DNA adducts. In this study, employing ion trap or high-resolution accurate Orbitrap mass spectrometry, we demonstrate that ring-opened AFB1–FapyGua adducts formed in AFB1-exposed newborn mice are stable to the formalin fixation and DNA de-cross-linking retrieval processes. The AFB1–FapyGua adducts can be detected at levels comparable to those in a match of fresh frozen liver. Orbitrap MS2 measurements can detect AFB1–FapyGua at a quantification limit of 4.0 adducts per 108 bases when only 0.8 μg of DNA is assayed on the column. Thus, our breakthrough DNA retrieval technology can be adapted to screen for AFB1 DNA adducts in FFPE human liver specimens from cohorts at risk of this potent liver carcinogen.