Preferential carcinogen-DNA adduct formation at codons 12 and 14 in the human K-ras gene and their possible mechanisms.
In the ras gene superfamily, codon 12 (-TGGTG-) of the K-ras gene is the most frequently mutated codon in human cancers. Recently, we have found that bulky chemical carcinogens preferentially form DNA adducts at codons 12 and 14 (-CGTAG-) in the K-ras gene in normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells. Furthermore, DNA adducts formed at codon 12 of the K-ras gene are poorly repaired compared with those at other codons including codon 14. These results suggest that targeted carcinogen-DNA adduct formation is a major reason for the observed high mutation frequency at codon 12 of the K-ras gene in human cancers. This preferential carcinogen-DNA adduct formation at codons 12 and 14 could result from effects of (1) primary sequences of these codons and their surrounding codons in the K-ras gene, (2) the chromatin structure, and/or (3) epigenetic factors such as C5 cytosine methylation or other DNA modifications at these codons and their surrounding codons. To distinguish these possibilities, we have introduced modifications with benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide, N-hydroxy-2-aminofluorene, and aflatoxin B1 8,9-epoxide in (1) naked intact genomic DNA isolated from NHBE cells, (2) fragmented genomic DNA digested by restriction enzymes, and (3) in vitro synthesized DNA fragments containing the K-ras gene exon 1 sequence with or without methylation of the cytosines at CpG sites and the cytosines pairing with the guanines of codons 12 and 14. The distribution of carcinogen-DNA adducts in the K-ras gene was mapped at the nucleotide sequence level using the UvrABC nuclease incision method with or without the ligation-mediated polymerase chain reaction technique. We have found that carcinogens preferentially form adducts at codons 12 and 14 in the K-ras gene exon 1 in intact as well as in fragmented genomic DNA. In contrast, this preferential DNA adduct formation at codons 12 and 14 was not observed in PCR-amplified DNA fragments containing the K-ras gene exon 1 sequence. Methylation of the cytosine at the CpG site of codon 14, or the cytosine pairing with guanine of codon 14, greatly enhanced carcinogen-DNA adduct formation at codon 14 but did not affect carcinogen-DNA adduct formation at codon 12. Methylation of the cytosine pairing with the guanine of codon 12 also did not enhance carcinogen-DNA adduct formation at codon 12. Furthermore, we found that the cytosine at the CpG site of codon 14 is highly methylated in NHBE cells. These results suggest that cytosine methylation at the CpG site is the major reason for the preferential DNA damage at codon 14 and that epigenetic modification(s) other than cytosine methylation may contribute to the preferential DNA damage at codon 12 of the K-ras gene.
- Feng Z
- Hu W
- Tang MS