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DNA strands can be designed to assemble into stable three-dimensional structures, based on Watson-Crick base pairing rules. The simplest of these is the DNA tetrahedron that is composed of four oligonucleotides. We have re-designed the sequence of a DNA tetrahedron so that it contains a single (AATT) binding site for the minor groove binding ligand Hoechst 33258. We examined the stability of this structure by placing fluorescent groups within each of its edges and have shown that all the edges melt at the same temperature in the absence of the ligand. The minor groove ligand still binds to its recognition sequence within the tetrahedron and increases the melting temperature of the folded complex. This ligand-induced stabilisation is propagated into the adjacent helical arms and the tetrahedron melts as a single entity in a cooperative fashion.

Original publication




Journal article


Biophys Chem

Publication Date





DNA tetrahedron, Hoechst 33258, Minor groove ligand, Nanostructure