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The DNA repair enzyme O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase has been used as a reagent to analyse the initial reaction sites of alkylating agents such as chloroethylnitrosourea that cross-link DNA. The transferase can be employed for this purpose because it removes substituted ethyl groups from DNA, as shown by its ability to act on O6-hydroxyethylguanine residues in DNA. The enzyme counteracts the formation of interstrand cross-links induced by bis-chloroethylnitrosourea, but not those induced by nitrogen mustard. Once formed, chloroethylnitrosourea-induced cross-links are not broken by the enzyme. In agreement with deductions from experiments with living cells, it is concluded that chloroethylnitrosourea act by forming reactive monoadducts at the O6 position of guanine and/or the O4 position of thymine, which subsequently generate -CH2CH2- bridges to the complementary DNA strand. A new method for quantitating interstrand cross-links in DNA has been employed.


Journal article


Nucleic Acids Res

Publication Date





7743 - 7758


Alkylation, Carmustine, Coliphages, DNA Repair, DNA, Bacterial, DNA, Viral, Escherichia coli, Kinetics, Methylnitronitrosoguanidine, Methyltransferases, O(6)-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase, Tritium