Comparative DNA Cross-Linking by Activated Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids
Food and Chemical Toxicology
The toxicity and bioactivity of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), common constituents of hundreds of plant species, and in herbal remedies and folk medicines prepared thereof, are probably due to their ability to form DNA cross-linking. We investigated DNA cross-linking activity by chemically-activated PAs from four different structural classes in Madin–Darby bovine kidney (MDBK) cells and in pBR322 DNA. In cell culture, α,β-unsaturated macrocyclic diester pyrroles dehydrosenecionine (DHSN), dehydroriddelliine (DHRD) and the saturated macrocyclic diester pyrrole dehydromonocrotaline (DHMO) were significantly more potent cross-linkers than the simple necine base (retronecine) and an N-oxide (indicine N-oxide; INO) as determined by alkaline elution. The proportion of total DNA cross-links that were proteinase K-resistant (DNA–DNA cross-links) induced by the various pyrroles ranged from 0.08 (DHRN) to 0.67 (DHSN). Those pyrroles that were potent cross-linkers of cellular DNA also cross-linked, in a dose-dependent manner, Bam H1-digested pBR322 DNA as assessed by a gel retardation assay. The possible functional relevance of pyrrole–DNA cross-links was determined by their ability to interrupt PCR amplification of a 1.129 kb segment of pBR322. Dehydrosenecionine completely inhibited amplification, while DHMO was of intermediate potency, while DHRN and INO had no effect. Taken together, these studies suggest that structural features, most notably the presence of a macrocyclic diester, confer potent cross-link activity to PAs. In any event, DNA–DNA cross-linking is probably biologically relevant as indicated by their interference with DNA replication.
Kim, H.Y., Stermitz, F.R., Li, J.K. and R.A. Coulombe, Jr. (1999). Comparative DNA cross-linking by activated pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 37: 619-625.