The role of copper and copper-ligand interactions in the generation of reactive oxygen species and the promotion of biomolecular damage
The work described in this thesis investigates the mechanisms by which copper complexes catalyse the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), including the highly reactive hydroxyl radical (.OH), and induce oxidative damage to DNA. An ESR study into the copper-Fenton reaction revealed that, in the presence of buffers and other copper chelators, .OH is generated. In contrast, it is suggested that a Cu(III) species may be formed in the reaction of aqueous, unchelated copper ions. The generation of .OH in the copper-Fenton reaction, under biomimetic conditions, was confirmed by analysis of the products formed following the incubation of DNA components with this system. Preferential binding of Cu(II) to guanosine over the other nucleosides was determined and copper redox cycling at GC sites was found to be more facile than at AT sites. Stability constants for the copper complexes with several other biochemically important ligands such as glutathione (GSH), Quin2 and 1,10-phenanthroline (OP) were also measured. The ease of redox cycling for the copper complexes was found to be of the order: OP ~ Quin2 > GSH. However, OP enhanced both the copper-Fenton reaction and copper-induced DNA damage while both GSH and Quin2 were inhibitory. Gel chromatography studies suggested that ternary complex formation occurs between Cu(I)-DNA and both Quin2 and OP. This implies that the ternary complex with OP is more redox active than that with Quin2. Whilst cysteine enhanced copper-mediated DNA damage at early incubation times, it was more protective than GSH and homocysteine at later stages. The effects at early incubation times are attributed to the ease of copper redox cycling in the presence of thiols while the effects over prolonged incubations reflect Cu(II) stabilisation by the respective disulphides or similar products.