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Nucleotide excision repair (NER) is a major repair pathway that recognizes and corrects various lesions in cellular DNA. We hypothesize that damage recognition is an initial step in NER that senses conformational anomalies in the DNA caused by lesions. We prepared three DNA duplexes containing the carcinogen adduct N-(2'-deoxyguanosin-8-yl)-7-fluoro-2-acetylaminofluorene (FAAF) at G1, G2 or G3 of NarI sequence (5'-CCG1G2 CG3CC-3'). Our 19F-NMR/ICD results showed that FAAF at G1 and G3 prefer syn S- and W-conformers, whereas anti B-conformer was predominant for G2. We found that the repair of FAAF occurs in a conformation-specific manner, i.e. the highly S/W-conformeric G3 and -G1 duplexes incised more efficiently than the B-type G2 duplex (G3 ~G1>G2). The melting and thermodynamic data indicate that the S- and W-conformers produce greater DNA distortion and thermodynamic destabilization. The Ndeacetylated N-(2'-deoxyguanosin-8-yl)-7-fluoro-2-aminofluorene (FAF) adducts in the same NarI sequence are repaired 2- to 3-fold less than FAAF: however, the incision efficiency was in order of G2~G1>G3, a reverse trend of the FAAF case. We have envisioned the so-called N-acetyl factor as it could raise conformational barriers of FAAF versus FAF. The present results provide valuable conformational insight into the sequence-dependent UvrABC incisions of the bulky aminofluorene DNA adducts.

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