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Two conformations adopted by the tetranucleoside triphosphate d(TCGA) in aqueous solution are in slow-exchange equilibrium on the NMR time scale. 1H and 31P NMR spectra obtained at temperatures below 25 degrees C contain two sets of signals that vary in relative proportions with changing temperature. High-field NMR techniques allow the conformations of these species to be examined. Both forms are right-handed double-helical structures, and their interconversion does not involve a single-stranded species since transfer of saturation is observed between corresponding imino protons held in the base pairs of each duplex. The form that predominates at higher temperatures resembles B-DNA, but the other, while of similar conformation at the ends of the molecule, is distorted at the C-G step. Shearing at the center of the duplex results in interstrand stacking of the two cytosines in a way that is reminiscent of Z-DNA. Distances between nonexchangeable protons in this model are consistent with nuclear Overhauser effects observed for resonances of the low-temperature form, while the 1H NMR spectrum shows cytidine H-2' resonances at unusually high field. The relative stabilities of the two forms are discussed in terms of base stacking and hydration, but the origin of the high activation energy for interconversion implicit in the slow-exchange rate is unclear. The conformation of the low-temperature form may represent a sequence-dependent structural feature important in natural DNA, although somewhat fortuitously exemplified by this tetramer. The suggested involvement in correct nucleosome phasing of the pentamer d(TTCGA), present in some eukaryotic genes, is noted.

Original publication

DOI

10.1021/bi00337a011

Type

Journal article

Journal

Biochemistry

Publication Date

30/07/1985

Volume

24

Pages

4325 - 4332

Keywords

Kinetics, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Models, Molecular, Nucleic Acid Conformation, Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Structure-Activity Relationship