Halothioketenes and haloketenes are postulated as intermediates in haloolefin bioactivation. Little is known about the interactions of these reactive intermediates with macromolecules such as DNA. DNA binding, however, may be relevant in the toxicity of the parent olefins since they or their proximate metabolites are genotoxic. This prompted us to elucidate the structures and properties of potential DNA adducts formed. Adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine were reacted with chloro- and dichlorothioketene, chloro- and dichloroketene, and chloro- and dichloroacyl chloride. While thymine did not react, adenine and cytosine formed stable DNA base adducts with all reaction partners as demonstrated by HPLC analysis. Guanine yielded only products with chloroketene and chloroacetyl chloride. The pH-dependent UV spectra, 1H and 13C NMR, FT-IR, and elemental analysis showed (i) nucleophilic attack of the exocyclic amino groups of the DNA bases yielded haloacyl (thio)amides with all reactants as clearly demonstrated by the FT-IR spectra; (ii) the sulfur in the initial thioamides seems to be rapidly exchanged with oxygen; (iii) the acyl chlorides form identical products but in lower yields as compared to the haloketenes. Reactions of the nucleosides with haloketenes showed the formation of similar nucleoside adducts upon HPLC and MS analysis. Beside the modification of the base moieties, additional peaks in the reaction mixtures analyzed suggested acylation of the deoxyribose hydroxyl groups. In aqueous solutions at pH 7 N6-(chloroacetyl)adenine, N4-(chloroacetyl)cytosine, and N2-(chloroacetyl)guanine are not stable and cleaved to the original base or form 1,N6-acetyladenine, 3,N4-acetylcytosine, 1,N2-acetylguanine, and N2,3-acetylguanine. Under the same conditions, N6-(dichloroacetyl)adenine and N4-(dichloroacetyl)cytosine were completely hydrolyzed to adenine and cytosine, respectively. All haloacyl DNA base adducts proved to be stable at pH 5 but were rapidly degraded at neutral or alkaline pH. The compounds with an additional five-membered ring remained unchanged after 1 week at room temperature. All synthesized DNA base adducts except N2-(chloroacetyl)guanine and 1,N2-acetylguanine were fluorescent. The characterized compounds, especially the etheno (epsilon) base adduct-related derivatives, may represent potential DNA adducts formed as a consequence of haloolefin bioactivation.

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