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Low dose dimethyl sulfoxide driven gross molecular changes have the potential to interfere with various cellular processes

Tuncer, Sinem
Gurbanov, Rafig
Sheraj, Ilir
Solel, Ege
Esentürk, Okan
Banerjee, Sreeparna
Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a small molecule with polar, aprotic and amphiphilic properties. It serves as a solvent for many polar and nonpolar molecules and continues to be one of the most used solvents (vehicle) in medical applications and scientific research. To better understand the cellular effects of DMSO within the concentration range commonly used as a vehicle (0.1-1.5%, v/v) for cellular treatments, we applied Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR) Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy to DMSO treated and untreated epithelial colon cancer cells. Both unsupervised (Principal Component Analysis-PCA) and supervised (Linear Discriminant Analysis-LDA) pattern recognition/modelling algorithms applied to the IR data revealed total segregation and prominent differences between DMSO treated and untreated cells at whole, lipid and nucleic acid regions. Several of these data were supported by other independent techniques. Further IR data analyses of macromolecular profile indicated comprehensive alterations especially in proteins and nucleic acids. Protein secondary structure analysis showed predominance of beta-sheet over alpha-helix in DMSO treated cells. We also observed for the first time, a reduction in nucleic acid level upon DMSO treatment accompanied by the formation of Z-DNA. Molecular docking and binding free energy studies indicated a stabilization of Z-DNA in the presence of DMSO. This alternate DNA form may be related with the specific actions of DMSO on gene expression, differentiation, and epigenetic alterations. Using analytical tools combined with molecular and cellular biology techniques, our data indicate that even at very low concentrations, DMSO induces a number of changes in all macromolecules, which may affect experimental outcomes where DMSO is used as a solvent.