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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Nitroxides block DNA scission and protect cells from oxidative damage.

The protective effect of cyclic stable nitroxide free radicals, having SOD-like activity, against oxidative damage was studied by using Escherichia coli xthA DNA repair-deficient mutant hypersensitive to H2O2. Oxidative damage induced by H2O2 was assayed by monitoring cell survival. The metal chelator 1,10-phenanthroline (OP), which readily intercalates into DNA, potentiated the H2O2-induced damage. The extent of in vivo DNA scission and degradation was studied and compared with the loss of cell viability. The extent of DNA breakage correlated with cell killing, supporting previous suggestions that DNA is the crucial cellular target of H2O2 cytotoxicity. The xthA cells were protected by catalase but not by superoxide dismutase (SOD). Both five- and six-membered ring nitroxides, having SOD-like activity, protected growing and resting cells from H2O2 toxicity, without lowering H2O2 concentration. To check whether nitroxides protect against O2.(-)-independent injury also, experiments were repeated under hypoxia. These nitroxides also protected hypoxic cells against H2O2, suggesting alternative modes of protection. Since nitroxides were found to reoxidize DNA-bound iron(II), the present results suggest that nitroxides protect by oxidizing reduced transition metals, thus interfering with the Fenton reaction.[1]


  1. Nitroxides block DNA scission and protect cells from oxidative damage. Samuni, A., Godinger, D., Aronovitch, J., Russo, A., Mitchell, J.B. Biochemistry (1991) [Pubmed]
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