DNA adduct

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A metabolite of benzo[a]pyrene forms an intercalated DNA adduct, at center

In molecular genetics, a DNA adduct is a segment of DNA bound to a cancer-causing chemical. This process could be the start of a cancerous cell, or carcinogenesis. DNA adducts in scientific experiments are used as biomarkers of exposure[1] and as such are themselves measured to reflect quantitatively, for comparison, the amount of carcinogen exposure to the subject organism, for example rats or other living animals.[citation needed] Under experimental conditions for study, such DNA adducts are induced by known carcinogens, of which commonly used is DMBA (7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene). For example, the term "DMBA-DNA adduct" in a scientific journal refers to a piece of DNA that has DMBA attached to it. The presence of such an adduct indicates prior exposure to a potential carcinogen, but does not by itself indicate the presence of cancer in the subject animal.[2][citation needed]


DNA damaged by carcinogenic 2-aminofluorene

Chemicals that form DNA adducts include:

DNA adducts include:

  • etheno-DNA adducts: 1,N(6)-etheno-2'-deoxyadenosine (epsilondA) and 3,N(4)-etheno-2'-deoxycytidine (epsilondC)

By-products include:

DNA damage[edit]

When a chemical binds to DNA, the DNA becomes damaged, and proper and complete replication cannot occur to make the normal intended cell. This could be the start of a mutation, or mutagenesis. Without effective DNA repair, which happens naturally under normal circumstances, this can lead to carcinogenesis, the beginnings of cancer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ La, DK; Swenberg, JA (1996). "DNA adducts: biological markers of exposure and potential applications to risk assessment.". Mutation Research/Reviews in Genetic Toxicology. 365 (1-3): 129–146. doi:10.1016/s0165-1110(96)90017-2. 
  2. ^ Farmer, P. "Biomarkers of exposure and effect for environmental carcinogens, and their applicability to human molecular epidemiological studies". Public Health Applications of Human Biomonitoring. U.S. EPA. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Marnett LJ (March 1999). "Lipid peroxidation-DNA damage by malondialdehyde". Mutat. Res. 424: 83–95. PMID 10064852. doi:10.1016/s0027-5107(99)00010-x.