Nondimer Damage in Deoxyribonucleic Acid Caused by Ultraviolet Radiation

  • Ronald O. Rahn


Pyrimidine dimers of the cyclobutane-type are the major photoproducts formed in ultraviolet(UV)-irradiated deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). [For a review of pyrimidine dimer formation in DNA, see Patrick and Rahn (1976).] The biological consequences of UV irradiation are generally ascribed to the formation of these dimers (see Jagger, 1976), although it is not a simple matter to directly relate pyrimidine dimer concentration with cell killing. Schenley et al. (1976), e.g., show that cells of Escherichia coli surviving UV irradiation excise the same number of dimers as nonviable cells. Hence, studies are needed to trace the sequence of biochemical and physiological events leading from pyrimidine dimers to cell death (see Swenson, 1976). Nevertheless, it shall be assumed that under normal circumstances DNA is the target of UV radiation, that pyrimidine dimers are formed in readily detected quantities, and that cells lacking the capacity to enzymatically recognize and repair pyrimidine damage are more susceptible to UV inactivation. In particular, enzymatic photoreactivation, which acts exclusively on pyrimidine dimers, can be used to demonstrate that pyrimidine dimers account for 50–90% of the UV inactivation of certain bacteria (Harm, 1976).


Pyrimidine Dimer Chain Break Thymine Glycol Apurinic Site Spore Photoproduct 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald O. Rahn
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA

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