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We prepared synthetic 50-mer DNA duplexes, each containing four mismatched base-pairs in similar positions. We examined their cleavage by DNases I and II, micrococcal nuclease (MNase), methidiumpropyl-EDTA-Fe(II) [MPE-Fe(II)] and hydroxyl radicals. We find that single mismatches only produce subtle changes in the DNase I-cleavage pattern, the most common of which is attenuated cleavage at locations 2-3 bases on the 3'-side of the mismatch. Subtle changes are also observed in most of the DNase II-cleavage patterns, although GT and GG inhibit the cleavage over longer regions and generate patterns that resemble footprints. MNase cleaves the heteroduplexes at the mismatches themselves (except for CC), and in some cases cleaves CpG and CpC steps. None of the mismatches causes any change in the cleavage patterns produced by hydroxyl radicals or MPE-Fe(II). We also examined the cleavage patterns of fragments containing tandem GA mismatches in the sequences RGAY/RGAY and YGAR/YGAR (R, purine; Y, pyrimidine). RGAY causes only subtle changes in the cleavage patterns, which are similar to those seen with single mismatches, except that there are no changes in MNase cleavage. However, YGAR inhibits DNases I and II cleavage over 4-6 bases, and attenuates MPE-Fe(II) and hydroxyl radical cleavage at 2 bases. These changes suggest that this mismatch has a more pronounced effect on the local DNA structure. These changes are discussed in terms of the structural and dynamic effects of each mismatch.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date





697 - 708


Base Pair Mismatch, Base Sequence, DNA, Deoxyribonuclease I, Endodeoxyribonucleases, Hydrolysis, Micrococcal Nuclease, Molecular Probes, Molecular Sequence Data