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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Adenine oxidation by pyrite-generated hydroxyl radicals

Corey A Cohn13, Shawn C Fisher2, Bruce J Brownawell2 and Martin AA Schoonen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Environmental Molecular Science, Department of Geosciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y. 11794-2100 USA

2 Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y 11794-5000 USA

3 Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington D.C. 20585 USA

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Geochemical Transactions 2010, 11:2  doi:10.1186/1467-4866-11-2

Published: 26 April 2010


Cellular exposure to particulate matter with concomitant formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidization of biomolecules may lead to negative health outcomes. Evaluating the particle-induced formation of ROS and the oxidation products from reaction of ROS with biomolecules is useful for gaining a mechanistic understanding of particle-induced oxidative stress. Aqueous suspensions of pyrite particles have been shown to form hydroxyl radicals and degrade nucleic acids. Reactions between pyrite-induced hydroxyl radicals and nucleic acid bases, however, remain to be determined. Here, we compared the oxidation of adenine by Fenton-generated (i.e., ferrous iron and hydrogen peroxide) hydroxyl radicals to adenine oxidation by hydroxyl radicals generated in pyrite aqueous suspensions. Results show that adenine oxidizes in the presence of pyrite (without the addition of hydrogen peroxide) and that the rate of oxidation is dependent on the pyrite loading. Adenine oxidation was prevented by addition of either catalase or ethanol to the pyrite/adenine suspensions, which implies that hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals are causing the adenine oxidation. The adenine oxidation products, 8-oxoadenine and 2-hydroxyadenine, were the same whether hydroxyl radicals were generated by Fenton or pyrite-initiated reactions. Although nucleic acid bases are unlikely to be directly exposed to pyrite particles, the formation of ROS in the vicinity of cells may lead to oxidative stress.

Graphical abstract