Florida International University researchers team up with University of Minnesota to develop a database of DNA adducts

The frequent exposure to chemicals in the environment and diet leads to the chemical modification of DNA, resulting in the formation of DNA adducts. Some DNA adducts can induce mutations during cell division, and when occurring in critical regions of the genome, can lead to disease, including cancer.

Dr. Marcus S. Cooke, professor in the department of Environmental Health Sciences at Florida International University’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, is a coinvestigator on a $164,000 grant from National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in partnership with Dr. Anthony P. DeCaprio, department of Chemistry & Biochemistry in the College of Arts, Science and Education at FIU, and a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota, comprising Drs. Jingshu Guo, Peter Villalta, Scott Walmsley, and Robert Turesky. The project represents an international collaboration with multiple research institutes, and commercial vendors worldwide, the team will develop and curate a comprehensive database of DNA adduct standards.

“DNA adductomics detects both expected and unexpected adducts, and some of those unexpected ones might also be unidentified. Having an adductome database will accelerate the identification of these unexpected adducts,” said Cooke.

The targeted analysis of DNA adducts over the past 30 years has revealed that the human genome contains a wide array of DNA adducts, many of which are attributed to life-style factors, such as smoking, eating well-done cooked meats, or through oxidative stress. With the advancement of high-resolution mass spectrometry instrumentation and new scanning technologies, untargeted ’omics approaches have become available to simultaneously screen for multiple DNA adducts in a single assay. However, the development of this emerging field of DNA adductomics is hindered by the lack of a publicly available mass spectral database for DNA adduct identification and characterization.

‘With a database that is freely available and searchable by the public, researchers can quickly identify adduct patterns, which will be very important when using DNA adductomics for assessing human exposures, or identifying cancer causing agents,” continued Cooke. “The successful establishment of a validated DNA adduct mass spectral database in a searchable, reference library is critical for the comprehensive analysis of DNA adductome profiles from cellular DNA, urine, and other biological matrices. This database will facilitate the use of DNA adductomics in human cohort studies and advance our understanding of the relationships between external and internal exposures and disease risk.”

This is Cooke’s fourth currently active NIEHS grant; having previously received R01, R15, and R41 grants to support his research.

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