The present study employs immunological methods to measure modified bases in DNA. A polyclonal antibody specific for thymine glycol was used to quantify the level of thymine glycol in calf thymus DNA γ-irradiated in solutions containing varying concentrations of DOPA-eumelanin. Melanin decreased the number of thymine glycols produced by 200 Gy at low melanin concentrations. At high melanin concentrations, the number of thymine glycols increased. Thymine glycol was also produced in unirradiated DNA-eumelanin mixtures. DOPA-eumelanin was found to produce single-strand breaks in supercoiled φX174 RF DNA. The breaks were measured by conversion of form I to form II as detected by agarose gel electrophoresis. The level of damage produced by melanin could be modulated by agents known either to stabilize or to scavenge active oxygen species. These studies demonstrate that melanin can both scavenge and generate active free radicals.

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