Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Formaldehyde is produced in cells by enzyme-catalysed demethylation reactions, including those occurring on N-methylated nucleic acids. Formaldehyde reacts with nucleobases to form N-hydroxymethylated adducts that may contribute to its toxicity/carcinogenicity when added exogenously, but the chemistry of these reactions has been incompletely defined. We report NMR studies on the reactions of formaldehyde with canonical/modified nucleobases. The results reveal that hydroxymethyl hemiaminals on endocyclic nitrogens, as observed with thymidine and uridine monophosphates, are faster to form than equivalent hemiaminals on exocyclic nitrogens; however, the exocyclic adducts, as formed with adenine, guanine and cytosine, are more stable in solution. Nucleic acid demethylase (FTO)-catalysed hydroxylation of (6-methyl)adenosine results in (6-hydroxymethyl)adenosine as the major observed product; by contrast no evidence for a stable 3-hydroxymethyl adduct was accrued with FTO-catalysed oxidation of (3-methyl)thymidine. Collectively, our results imply N-hydroxymethyled adducts of nucleic acid bases, formed either by reactions with formaldehyde or via demethylase catalysis, have substantially different stabilities, with some being sufficiently stable to have functional roles in disease or the regulation of nucleic acid/nucleobase activity.

Original publication

DOI

10.1039/c8ob00734a

Type

Journal article

Journal

Org Biomol Chem

Publication Date

30/05/2018

Volume

16

Pages

4021 - 4032