In molecular genetics, a DNA adduct is a segment of DNA bound to a cancer-causing chemical. This process could be the start of a cancerous cell, or carcinogenesis. DNA adducts in scientific experiments are used as biomarkers of exposure and as such are themselves measured to reflect quantitatively, for comparison, the amount of carcinogen exposure to the subject organism, for example rats or other living animals. Under experimental conditions for study, such DNA adducts are induced by known carcinogens, of which commonly used is DMBA (7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene). For example, the term "DMBA-DNA adduct" in a scientific journal refers to a piece of DNA that has DMBA attached to it. The presence of such an adduct indicates prior exposure to a potential carcinogen, but does not by itself indicate the presence of cancer in the subject animal.
Chemicals that form DNA adducts include:
DNA adducts include:
When a chemical binds to DNA, the DNA becomes damaged, and proper and complete replication cannot occur to make the normal intended cell. This could be the start of a mutation, or mutagenesis. Without effective DNA repair, which happens naturally under normal circumstances, this can lead to carcinogenesis, the beginnings of cancer.
Human consumption of more than 2.5-3.5 oz (70-100 g) of red meat (beef, lamb or pork) a day increases the risk of colon cancer, but eating chicken does not have this risk. The increased risk of colon cancer from red meat may be due to higher increases in DNA adducts from digestion of red meat. When rats were fed either beef or chicken, three types of DNA adducts in colon tissue were significantly higher after consumption of beef than after consumption of chicken. These adducts were a type of methyl-cytosine (possibly N3-methyl-cytosine), an adduct of two malondialdehyde molecules with guanine, and carboxyl-adenine. DNA adducts are a type of DNA damage. DNA damage is considered to be the primary cause of carcinogenesis.