Altromycin B belongs to the pluramycin family of antitumor antibiotics, which also includes kidamycin, hedamycin, pluramycin, neopluramycin, DC92-B, and rubiflavin A. These potent antitumor compounds react with DNA in as yet imprecisely determined ways. In the present investigation, we have used gel electrophoresis methods in combination with nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry to determine the structure of the altromycin B-DNA adduct. High-resolution gel electrophoresis demonstrated that guanine was the reactive base, and N7 was implicated from experiments in which N7-deazaguanine was used in place of guanine in a strand breakage assay. Experiments using supercoiled DNA demonstrated that altromycin B and related drugs intercalated into DNA, which implicated this as a common mechanism for binding of the pluramycin antibiotics to DNA. The altromycin B-guanine adduct was isolated from calf thymus DNA after thermal depurination of the alkylated DNA. Mass spectrometry confirmed that altromycin alkylated DNA through guanine, and 1H- and 13C-NMR was used to confirm the covalent linkage sites between altromycin B and guanine. On the basis of these results, we propose that altromycin B first intercalates into DNA via a threading mechanism, reminiscent of nogalamycin, to insert the disaccharide into the minor groove and position the epoxide in the major groove in proximity to N7 of guanine. Nucleophilic attack from N7 of guanine leads to an acid-catalyzed opening of the epoxide, resulting in the altromycin B-DNA adduct. On the basis of these results, a general mechanism for the interaction of the pluramycin family of antibiotics with DNA is proposed.
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