Reactivities of benzene metabolites (phenol, catechol, hydroquinone, 1,4-benzoquinone, 1,2,4-benzenetriol) and related polyphenols (resorcinol, pyrogallol, phloroglucinol) with DNA were investigated by a DNA sequencing technique using 32P 5′-end-labeled DNA fragments obtained from human c-Ha-ras-1 protooncogene, and the reaction mechanism was studied by UV-visible and electron-spin resonance spectroscopies. 1,2,4-Benzenetriol caused strong DNA damage even without alkali treatment. Alkali-labile sites induced by 1,2,4-benzenetriol were base residues of guanine and adjacent thymine. Catalase, superoxide dismutase and methional inhibited the DNA damage completely, but sodium formate did not inhibit it. 1,2,4-Benzenetriol-induced DNA damage was inhibited by the addition of a Cu(I)-specific chelating agent, bathocuproine, and was accelerated by the addition of Cu(II). The addition of Fe(III) did not create any significant effects on 1,2,4-benzenetriol-induced DNA damage. Electron-spin resonance studies using spin traps demonstrated that addition of Fe(III) increased hydroxyl radical production during the autoxidation of 1,2,4-benzenetriol, whereas the addition of Cu(II) did not. The results suggest that DNA damage was caused by an unidentified active species which was produced by the autoxidation of 1,2,4-benzenetriol in the presence of Cu(II), rather than by hydroxyl radicals. The possibility that 1,2,4-benzenetriol-induced DNA damage is one of the primary reactions in carcinogenesis induced by benzene is discussed.


This work was supported in part by a research grant from the Fujiwara Foundation of Kyoto University and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (62570228 and 63870027) from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan.

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