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Identification of endogenous electrophiles by means of mass spectrometric determination of protein and DNA adducts.

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      Monitoring exposure to alkylating agents may be achieved by quantitatively determining the adduct levels formed with nucleic acids and/or proteins. One of the most significant results arising from the application of this approach has been the discovery in control populations of "background" levels of alkylated nucleic acid bases or alkylated proteins, in particular hemoglobin (Hb). In the case of Hb, a wide variety of such adducts have been detected and quantitated by mass spectrometric techniques, with methylated, 2-carboxyethylated, and 2-hydroxyethylated modifications being most abundant. Although the source of these alkylation products is unknown, both endogenous and exogenous sources may be proposed. We have recently confirmed the presence of the N-terminal hydroxyethylvaline adduct in control human Hb using tandem mass spectrometry (MS-MS) and have now established background levels using GC-MS in more than 70 samples. Smoking raises the levels of the adduct up to 10-fold and occupational exposure to ethylene oxide up to 300-fold. Background levels of alkylated nucleic acids may be studied by analysis of N7-alkylated guanine or N3-alkylated adenine, which are excised from nucleic acids after their formation and are excreted in urine. Although the presence of some of these urinary constituents may be accounted for by their natural occurrence in RNA or diet, the endogenous or exogenous source of others is unknown. Quantitative methods using MS-MS have now been developed for five of the observed urinary alkylguanines [N7-methyl-, N2-methyl-, N2-dimethyl-, N7-(2-hydroxyethyl)-, and N2-ethylguanine].(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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      MRC Toxicology Unit, Carshalton, Surrey, UK.
      Environ Health Perspect
      Environmental Health Perspectives
      March 1993
      : 99
      : 19-24
      Research Article

      Public health


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