DNA repair by photolyase: A novel substrate with low background absorption around 265 nm for transient absorption studies in the UV
CPD photolyase enzymatically repairs the major UV-induced lesion in DNA, the cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer (CPD), by photoreversion of the damage reaction. An enzyme-bound reduced flavin (FADH-) cofactor functions as photosensitizer. Upon excitation, it transiently transfers an electron to the CPD, triggering scission of the interpyrimidine bonds. After repair completion, the electron returns to the flavin to restore its functional reduced form. A major difficulty for time-resolved spectroscopic monitoring of the enzymatic repair reaction is that absorption changes around 265 nm accompanying pyrimidine restoration are obscured by the strong background absorption of the nondimerized bases in DNA. Here we present a novel substrate for CPD photolyase that absorbs only weakly around 265 nm: a modified thymidine 10-mer with a central CPD and all bases, except the one at the 3′ end, replaced by 5,6-dihydrothymine which virtually does not absorb around 265 nm. Repair of this substrate by photolyases from Anacystis nidulans and from Escherichia coli was compared with repair of two conventional substrates: a 10-mer of unmodified thymidines containing a central CPD and an acetone-sensitized thymidine 18-mer that contained in average six randomly distributed CPDs per strand. In all cases, the novel substrate was repaired with an efficiency very similar to that of the conventional substrates (quantum yields in the order of 0.5 upon excitation of FADH-). Flash-induced transient absorption changes at 267 nm could be recorded on a millisecond time scale with a single subsaturating flash and yielded very similar signals for all three substrates. Because of its low background absorption around 265 nm and the defined structure, the novel substrate is a promising tool for fast and ultrafast transient absorption studies on pyrimidine dimer splitting by CPD photolyase.