Uncovering the Role of Methylmercury on DNA Lesions at Cytotoxic Concentrations in Glutathione-Depleted Cells: Insights from Experimental and Computational Studies

Ranajit Das, Ramesh Karri, Ashish Chalana, Rakesh Kumar Rai, Gouriprasanna Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Organomercurials (RHg+), especially methylmercury (MeHg+) and ethylmercury (EtHg+), are considered to be more neurotoxic than the inorganic counterpart (Hg2+). They cause massive DNA damage in cells, especially in neurons, where cellular glutathione (GSH) levels are significantly low. However, the mechanism by which RHg+ exerts massive DNA damage at cytotoxic concentrations in brain cells remains obscure. In this study, we investigated the effect of RHg+ on the structural and electronic properties of nucleosides and its effects on DNA damage. The direct interaction of RHg+ with the nucleoside significantly weakens N-glycosidic bonds, decreases the C-H bond energy of sugar moieties, and increases the electrophilicity of the C8-center of purine bases. As a consequence, RHg+-conjugated DNA molecules are extremely labile and highly sensitive to any nucleophiles/radicals present in GSH-depleted cells and, thus, undergo enhanced oxidative and unusual alkylative DNA damage. We also report a functional model of organomercurial lyase, which showed excellent cytoprotective effect against RHg+-induced cytotoxicity; this reverses the activity of glutathione reductase inhibited by MeHgCl and ceases oxidative and alkylating DNA damage. This intriguing finding provides new mechanistic insight into the mode of action of organomercurials in GSH-depleted cells and their adverse effects on individuals with neurodegenerative disorders associated with oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInorganic Chemistry
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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