The mechanism of the nitric oxide-mediated enhancement of tert-butylhydroperoxide-induced DNA single strand breakage

Andrea Guidarelli, Emilio Clementi, Clara Sciorati, Orazio Cantoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Caffeine (Cf) enhances the DNA cleavage induced by tert-butylhydroperoxide (tB-OOH) in U937 cells via a mechanism involving Ca2+-dependent mitochondrial formation of DNA-damaging species. Nitric oxide (NO) is not involved in this process since U937 cells do not express the constitutive nitric oxide synthase (cNOS). 2. Treatment with the NO donors S-nitroso-N-acetyl-penicillamine (SNAP, 10 μM), or S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO, 300 μM), however, potentiated the DNA strand scission induced by 200 μM tB-OOH. The DNA lesions generated by tB-OOH alone, or combined with SNAP, were repaired with superimposable kinetics and were insensitive to anti-oxidants and peroxynitrite scavengers but suppressed by iron chelators. 3. SNAP or GSNO did not cause mitochondrial Ca2+ accumulation but their enhancing effects on the tB-OOH-induced DNA strand scission were prevented by ruthenium red, an inhibitor of the calcium uniporter of mitochondria. Furthermore, the enhancing effects of both SNAP and GSNO were identical to and not additive with those promoted by the Ca2+-mobilizing agents Cf or ATP. 4. The SNAP- or GSNO-mediated enhancement of the tB-OOH-induced DNA cleavage was abolished by the respiratory chain inhibitors rotenone and myxothiazol and was not apparent in respiration-deficient cells. 5. It is concluded that, in cells which do not express the enzyme cNOS, exogenous NO enhances the accumulation of DNA single strand breaks induced by tB-OOH via a mechanism involving inhibition of complex III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1074-1080
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • DNA single strand breakage
  • Nitric oxide
  • NO-donors
  • Respiratory chain
  • tert-Butylhydroperoxide
  • U937 cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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