UVA contributes to skin cancer by solar UV light. Photosensitizers are believed to play an important role in UVA carcinogenesis. We investigated the mechanism of DNA damage induced by photoexcited xanthone (XAN) analogues (XAN, thioxanthone [TXAN] and acridone [ACR]), exogenous photosensitizers, and the relationship between the DNA-damaging abilities and their highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) energies. DNA damage by these photosensitizers was examined using 32P-labeled DNA fragments obtained from the p53 tumor suppressor gene. Photoexcited XAN caused DNA cleavage specifically at 5′-G of the GG sequence in the double-stranded DNA only when the DNA fragments were treated with piperidine, suggesting that DNA cleavage is due to base modification with little or no strand breakage. With denatured single-stranded DNA, the extent of XAN-sensitized photodamage was decreased. An oxidative product of G, 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dGuo), was formed by photoexcited XAN, and the 8-oxo-dGuo formation was decreased in single-stranded DNA. TXAN and ACR induced DNA photodamage as did XAN, although the order of DNA-damaging ability was XAN > TXAN > ACR. These findings suggest that photoexcited XAN analogues induce nucleobase oxidation at 5′-G of GG sequence in double-stranded DNA through electron transfer. The HOMO energies of these photosensitizers, estimated from ab initio molecular orbital (MO) calculation, decreased in the following order: XAN > TXAN > ACR. Extents of DNA damage increased exponentially with the HOMO energies of XAN analogues. This study suggests that DNA-damaging abilities of photosensitizers can be estimated from their HOMO energies.
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Vol. 77 • No. 4