Three DNA duplexes differing substantially in sequence were derived from pBR322 plasmid DNA and supercoiled SV40 DNA by digestion with appropriate restriction endonucleases. Following treatment with the restriction methylase HhaI (recognition sequence: GCGC) or Hhal and HpaII (CCGG), the unmethylated and methylated DNAs were compared as substrates for the antitumor agent bleomycin. Bleomycin-mediated strand scission was shown to diminish substantially at a number of sites in proximity to the methylated cytidine moieties, especially where multiple sites had been methylated within a DNA segment of limited size. Detailed analysis of the DNA substrates revealed that both strands of DNA within a methylated region became more refractory to cleavage by bleomycin and that the protective effect could extend as many as 14 base pairs in proximity to the 5-methylcytidine moieties. Among the methylated DNA segments that became more resistant to bleomycin cleavage was a Hpall site of SV40 DNA, methylation of which has previously been shown to diminish the synthesis of the major late viral capsid protein following microinjection into Xenopus laevis oocytes. Study of the cleavage reaction at varying salt levels suggested that diminished bleomycin strand scission may be due, at least in part, to local conformational changes of the DNA to Z form (or other non-B-form structures). The results are generally consistent with the hypothesis that one mechanism for the expression of selective therapeutic action by certain DNA damaging agents could involve the recognition of specific methylation patterns.
ASJC Scopus subject areas