Physical and Environmental Factors Influencing the Photochemistry of DNA

  • R. O. Rahn
Conference paper


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) contains four bases — adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine — each of which absorbs strongly in the ultraviolet (UV), with a maximum at ~260 nm. Irradiation of DNA in solution with UV light leads to the formation of cyclobutane dimers of the type between adjacent thymines. Cytosine-cytosine dimers and thymine-cytosine dimers are also produced by UV irradiation, though to a lesser extent. The purines, adenine and guanine, are considerably less reactive to UV than the pyrimidines. Thymine dimers were first obtained by Beukers and Berends from irradiated frozen solutions of thymine (1) and from irradiated DNA (2), and later by Wacker et al. (3) from irradiated vegetative bacterial cells. Subsequently Setlow et al. showed that such dimers inhibit the synthesis of DNA in growing bacteria (4). Several review articles (5, 6, 7) are available, discussing both the photochemistry of DNA and the nature and biological significance of pyrimidine dimers.


Bacterial Spore Pyrimidine Dimer Thymine Dimer Spore Photoproduct Cyclobutane Dimer 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1970

Authors and Affiliations

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

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