The photoinduced DNA damage by the berberine derivative coralyne is presented. The irradiation of coralyne in the presence of plasmid DNA namely, pBR322, leads to remarkably fast DNA damage by single-strand cleavage, as determined by agarose-gel electrophoresis. Even upon exposure to sunlight, almost all of the supercoiled plasmid is converted to the open circular form in less than a minute [c(pBR322) = 3.5 × 10−9 M; c(coralyne) = 4.3 × 10−5 M]. The efficiency of the DNA strand cleavage is not decreased in the presence of radical-trapping reagents such as tert-butanol or DMSO. Moreover, the extent of the DNA damage is the same under aerobic conditions and at reduced oxygen concentration. Thus, the formation of reactive intermediates such as hydroxyl radicals or singlet oxygen is excluded. These results show that the exposure of coralyne and derivatives thereof to light, even with moderate light intensity, needs to be avoided during experiments in which their biological activity is assessed by plasmid unwinding assays.
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Vol. 82 • No. 6