Covalent binding of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon components of coal tar to DNA in mouse skin

N C Hughes, W Pfau, A Hewer, J Jacob, G Grimmer, D H Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Treatment of mouse skin with coal tar is known to initiate tumour formation, with the carcinogenic activity associated mainly with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). A sample of pharmaceutical coal tar was analysed by gas chromatography and 19 major PAHs were identified. 32P-postlabelling analysis was used to characterize those PAHs that are responsible for the DNA binding of coal tar and, by inference, its biological activity. PAHs were grouped according to their reported carcinogenic activities and applied as mixtures to mouse skin. Group A contained all of the 19 PAHs, group B seven PAHs for which there is sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity and group C 12 PAHs with only limited or inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. 32P-Labelled DNA adducts formed by coal tar were resolved on TLC into a pattern of three discrete spots (2, 4 and 6) and four areas of diffuse radioactivity (1, 3, 5 and 7). By comparison of the pattern of adducts formed by coal tar with those formed by the synthetic mixtures it appeared that PAHs in group B formed coal tar-DNA adduct spots 4 and 6, and that adduct spot 2 was formed by PAHs in group C. Attempts to identify those PAHs responsible for the formation of coal tar-DNA adducts 4 and 6 were made by comparing the chromatographic mobilities of 32P-labelled coal tar-derived DNA adducts formed in mouse skin, using TLC and HPLC, with those formed by PAHs in group B. As benzo[ghi]perylene (B[ghi]P), a component of group C, has been demonstrated to exhibit significant DNA binding ability previously, the chromatographic mobility of coal tar-DNA adduct spot 2 was compared to that of the major DNA adducts formed by B[ghi]P in vivo and in vitro. It appeared that coal tar adduct spot 2 was the major adduct formed by B[ghi]P in vitro and that benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo [j]fluoranthene and benzo[k]fluoranthene contributed to the formation of adduct spot 6. None of the PAHs examined appeared to be responsible for the formation of adduct spot 4.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-44
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1993


  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Carcinogens
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Coal Tar
  • DNA
  • DNA Damage
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Polycyclic Compounds
  • Skin


Dive into the research topics of 'Covalent binding of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon components of coal tar to DNA in mouse skin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this