The propensity of oligonucleotide strands to form stable duplexes with complementary sequences is fundamental to a variety of biological and biotechnological processes as various as microRNA signalling, microarray hybridization and PCR. Yet our understanding of oligonucleotide hybridization, in particular in presence of surfaces, is rather limited. Here we use oligonucleotide microarrays made in-house by optically controlled DNA synthesis to produce probe sets comprising all possible single base mismatches and base bulges for each of 20 sequence motifs under study.
We observe that mismatch discrimination is mostly determined by the defect position (relative to the duplex ends) as well as by the sequence context. We investigate the thermodynamics of the oligonucleotide duplexes on the basis of double-ended molecular zipper. Theoretical predictions of defect positional influence as well as long range sequence influence agree well with the experimental results.
Molecular zipping at thermodynamic equilibrium explains the binding affinity of mismatched DNA duplexes on microarrays well. The position dependent nearest neighbor model (PDNN) can be inferred from it. Quantitative understanding of microarray experiments from first principles is in reach.
The high binding specificity of short 10 to 30 mer oligonucleotide probes enables single base mismatch (MM) discrimination and thus provides the basis for genotyping and resequencing microarray applications. Recent experiments indicate that the underlying principles governing DNA microarray hybridization – and in particular MM discrimination – are not completely understood. Microarrays usually address complex mixtures of DNA targets. In order to reduce the level of complexity and to study the problem of surface-based hybridization with point defects in more detail, we performed array based hybridization experiments in well controlled and simple situations.
We performed microarray hybridization experiments with short 16 to 40 mer target and probe lengths (in situations without competitive hybridization) in order to systematically investigate the impact of point-mutations – varying defect type and position – on the oligonucleotide duplex binding affinity. The influence of single base bulges and single base MMs depends predominantly on position – it is largest in the middle of the strand. The position-dependent influence of base bulges is very similar to that of single base MMs, however certain bulges give rise to an unexpectedly high binding affinity. Besides the defect (MM or bulge) type, which is the second contribution in importance to hybridization affinity, there is also a sequence dependence, which extends beyond the defect next-neighbor and which is difficult to quantify. Direct comparison between binding affinities of DNA/DNA and RNA/DNA duplexes shows, that RNA/DNA purine-purine MMs are more discriminating than corresponding DNA/DNA MMs. In DNA/DNA MM discrimination the affected base pair (C·G vs. A·T) is the pertinent parameter. We attribute these differences to the different structures of the duplexes (A vs. B form).
We have shown that DNA microarrays can resolve even subtle changes in hybridization affinity for simple target mixtures. We have further shown that the impact of point defects on oligonucleotide stability can be broken down to a hierarchy of effects. In order to explain our observations we propose DNA molecular dynamics – in form of zipping of the oligonucleotide duplex – to play an important role.
The bulged insertions of (R)-1-O-(pyren-1-ylmethyl)glycerol (monomer P) in two complementary 8mer DNA strands (intercalating nucleic acids) opposite to each other resulted in the formation of an easily denaturing duplex, which had lower thermal stability (21.0°C) than the wild-type double-stranded DNA (dsDNA, 26.0°C), but both modified oligodeoxynucleotides had increased binding affinity toward complementary single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) (41.5 and 39.0°C). Zipping of pyrene moieties in an easily denaturing duplex gave formation of a strong excimer band at 480 nm upon excitation at 343 nm in the steady-state fluorescence spectra. The excimer band disappeared upon addition of a similar short dsDNA, but remained when adding a 128mer dsDNA containing the same sequence. When P was inserted into 2′-OMe-RNA strands, the duplex with zipping P was found to be more stable (42.0°C) than duplexes with the complementary ssDNAs (31.5 and 19.5°C). The excimer band observed in the ds2′-OMe-RNA with zipping P had marginal changes upon addition of both 8 and 128mer dsDNA. Synthesized oligonucleotides were tested in a transcriptional inhibition assay for targeting of the open complex formed by Escherichia coli RNA polymerase with the lac UV-5 promoter using the above mentioned 128mer dsDNA. Inhibition of transcription was observed for 8mer DNAs possessing pyrene intercalators and designed to target both template and non-template DNA strands within the open complex. The observed inhibition was partly a result of unspecific binding of the modified DNAs to the RNA polymerase. Furthermore, the addition of 8mer DNA with three bulged insertions of P designed to be complementary to the template strand at the +36 to +43 position downstream of the transcription start resulted in a specific halt of transcription producing a truncated RNA transcript. This is to our knowledge the first report of an RNA elongation stop mediated by a small DNA sequence possessing intercalators. The insertions of P opposite to each other in ds2′-OMe-RNA showed inhibition efficiency of 96% compared with 25% for unmodified ds2′-OMe-RNA.
The interferon-inducible, double-stranded (ds)RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR) contains a dsRNA-binding domain (dsRBD) and plays key roles in viral pathogenesis and innate immunity. Activation of PKR is typically mediated by long dsRNA, and regulation of PKR is disfavored by most RNA imperfections, including bulges and internal loops. Herein, we combine isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs), and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to dissect the thermodynamic basis for specificity of the dsRBD termed ‘p20’ for various RNAs, and to detect any RNA conformational changes induced upon protein binding. We monitor binding of p20 to chimeric duplexes containing terminal RNA-DNA hybrid segments and a central dsRNA segment, which was either unbulged (‘perfect’) or bulged. The ITC data reveal strong binding of p20 to the perfect duplex (Kd~30 nM) and weaker binding to the bulged duplex (Kd~2-5 μM). SAXS reconstructions and p(r) distance distribution functions further uncover that p20 induces no significant conformational change of perfect dsRNA but largely straightens bulged dsRNA. These observations support the dsRBD’s ability to tightly bind only to A-form RNA and suggest that in a non-infected cell, PKR may be buffered via weak interactions with various bulged and looped RNAs, which it may straighten. This work suggests that PKR-regulating RNAs having complex secondary and tertiary structures likely mimic dsRNA and/or engage portions of PKR outside of the dsRBD.
The pteridine nucleoside analog 3-methyl isoxanthopterin (3-MI) is highly fluorescent, with a quantum yield of 0.88, and it can be synthesized as a phosphoramidite and incorporated into oligonucleotides through a deoxyribose linkage. Within an oligonucleotide, 3-MI is intimately associated with native bases and its fluorescence is variably quenched in a sequence-dependent manner. Bend ing, annealing, binding, digestion or cleavage of fluorophore-containing oligonucleotides can be detected by monitoring changes in fluorescence properties. We developed a single step method for detecting annealing of complementary DNA sequences using 3-MI-containing oligonucleotides as hybridization probes. One of the complementary strands contains the fluorophore as an insertion and when annealing occurs, the fluorophore bulges out from the double strand, resulting in increased fluorescence intensity. We have examined the sequence dependency, optimal strand length and impact of multiple fluorophores per strand in terms of brightness and impact on the annealing process. We describe the application of this technique to the detection of positive PCR products using an HIV-1 detection system. This sequence-dependent hybridization technique can result in fluorescence intensity increases of up to 27-fold. Fluorescence intensity increases are only seen upon specific binding to bulge-generating complements, removing issues of high background from non-specific binding.
bulges in RNA commonly occur in nature. Yet, little
data exists concerning the thermodynamic parameters of this motif.
Algorithms that predict RNA secondary structure from sequence currently
attribute a constant free energy value of 3.2 kcal/mol to all trinucleotide
bulges, regardless of bulge sequence. To test the accuracy of this
model, RNA duplexes that contain frequent naturally occurring trinucleotide
bulges were optically melted, and their thermodynamic parameters—enthalpy,
entropy, free energy, and melting temperature—were determined.
The thermodynamic data were used to derive a new model to predict
the free energy contribution of trinucleotide bulges to RNA duplex
stability: ΔG°37, trint bulge = ΔG°37, bulge + ΔG°37, AU + ΔG°37, GU. The parameter ΔG°37, bulge is variable depending upon the purine
and pyrimidine composition of the bulge, ΔG°37, AU is a 0.49 kcal/mol penalty for an A-U
closing pair, and ΔG° 37, GU is a −0.56 kcal/mol bonus for a G-U closing pair. With both
closing pair and bulge sequence taken into account, this new model
predicts free energy values within 0.30 kcal/mol of the experimental
value. The new model can be used by algorithms that predict RNA free
energies as well as algorithms that use free energy minimization to
predict RNA secondary structure from sequence.
Repetitive DNA sequences exhibit complex structural and energy
landscapes, populated by metastable, non-canonical states, that favor expansion
and deletion events correlated with disease phenotypes. To probe the origins of
such genotype-phenotype linkages, we report the impact of sequence and repeat
number on properties of (CNG) repeat bulge loops. We find the stability of
duplexes with a repeat bulge loop is controlled by two opposing effects; a loop
junction-dependent destabilization of the underlying double helix, and a
self-structure dependent stabilization of the repeat bulge loop. For small bulge
loops, destabilization of the underlying double helix overwhelms any favorable
contribution from loop self-structure. As bulge loop size increases, the
stabilizing loop structure contribution dominates. The role of sequence on
repeat loop stability can be understood in terms of its impact on the opposing
influences of junction formation and loop structure. The nature of the bulge
loop affects the thermodynamics of these two contributions differently,
resulting in unique differences in repeat size dependent minima in the overall
enthalpy, entropy, and free energy changes. Our results define factors that
control repeat bulge loop formation; knowledge required to understand how this
helix imperfection is linked to DNA expansion, deletion, and disease
DNA loop structure; DNA thermodynamics; DNA stability; trinucleotide-repeat diseases; calorimetry; circular dichroism (CD)
We describe a novel hybridization assay that employs a unique class of energy tunable, bulge loop-containing competitor strands (C*) that hybridize to a probe strand (P). Such initial “pre-binding” of a probe strand modulates its effective “availability” for hybridizing to a target site (T). More generally, the assay described here is based on competitive binding equilibria for a common probe strand (P) between such tunable competitor strands (C*) and a target strand (T).
We demonstrate that loop variable, energy tunable families of C*P complexes exhibit enhanced discrimination between targets and mismatched targets, thereby reducing false positives/negatives. We refer to a C*P complex between a C* competitor single strand and the probe strand as a “tuning fork,” since the C* strand exhibits branch points (forks) at the duplex-bulge interfaces within the complex. By varying the loop to create families of such “tuning forks,” one can construct C*P “energy ladders” capable of resolving small differences within the target that may be of biological/functional consequence. The methodology further allows quantification of target strand concentrations, a determination heretofore not readily available by conventional hybridization assays. The dual ability of this tunable assay to discriminate and quantitate targets provides the basis for developing a technology we refer to as a “DNA Meter.” Here we present data that establish proof-of-principle for an in solution version of such a DNA Meter. We envision future applications of this tunable assay that incorporate surface bound/spatially resolved DNA arrays to yield enhanced discrimination and sensitivity.
novel hybridization assay; DNA meter; DNA arrays
Non-canonical DNA structures have been postulated to mediate protein-nucleic acid interactions and to function as intermediates in the generation of frame-shift mutations when errors in DNA replication occur, which result in a variety of diseases and cancers. Compounds capable of binding to non-canonical DNA conformations may thus have significant diagnostic and therapeutic potential. Clerocidin is a natural diterpenoid which has been shown to selectively react with single-stranded bases without targeting the double helix. Here we performed a comprehensive analysis on several non-canonical DNA secondary structures, namely mismatches, nicks, bulges, hairpins, with sequence variations in both the single-stranded region and the double-stranded flanking segment. By analysis of clerocidin reactivity, we were able to identify the exposed reactive residues which provided information on both the secondary structure and the accessibility of the non-paired sites. Mismatches longer than 1 base were necessary to be reached by clerocidin reactive groups, while 1-base nicks were promptly targeted by clerocidin; in hairpins, clerocidin reactivity increased with the length of the hairpin loop, while, interestingly, reactivity towards bulges reached a maximum in 3-base-long bulges and declined in longer bulges. Electrophoretic mobility shift analysis demonstrated that bulges longer than 3 bases (i.e. 5- and 7-bases) folded or stacked on the duplex region therefore being less accessible by the compound. Clerocidin thus represents a new valuable diagnostic tool to dissect DNA secondary structures.
The NMR structure analysis is described for two DNA molecules of identical stem sequences with a five base loop containing a pyrimidine, thymin or uracil, in between purines. These five unpaired nucleotides are bulged out and are known to induce a kink in the duplex structure. The dAATAA bulge DNA is kinked between the third and the fourth nucleotide. This contrasts with the previously studied dAAAAA bulge DNA where we found a kink between the fourth and fifth nucleotide. The total kinking angle is ∼104° for the dAATAA bulge. The findings were supported by electrophoretic data and fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements of a similar DNA molecule end-labeled by suitable fluorescent dyes. For the dAAUAA bulge the NMR data result in a similar structure as reported for the dAATAA bulge with a kinking angle of ∼87°. The results are discussed in comparison with a rAAUAA RNA bulge found in a group I intron. Generally, the sequence-dependent structure of bulges is important to understand the role of DNA bulges in protein recognition.
Both clinical and analytical metrics produced by microarray-based assay technology have recognized problems in reproducibility, reliability and analytical sensitivity. These issues are often attributed to poor understanding and control of nucleic acid behaviors and properties at solid-liquid interfaces. Nucleic acid hybridization, central to DNA and RNA microarray formats, depends on the properties and behaviors of single strand (ss) nucleic acids (e.g., probe oligomeric DNA) bound to surfaces. ssDNA’s persistence length, radius of gyration, electrostatics, conformations on different surfaces and under various assay conditions, its chain flexibility and curvature, charging effects in ionic solutions, and fluorescent labeling all influence its physical chemistry and hybridization under assay conditions. Nucleic acid (e.g., both RNA and DNA) target interactions with immobilized ssDNA strands are highly impacted by these biophysical states. Furthermore, the kinetics, thermodynamics, and enthalpic and entropic contributions to DNA hybridization reflect global probe/target structures and interaction dynamics. Here we review several biophysical issues relevant to oligomeric nucleic acid molecular behaviors at surfaces and their influences on duplex formation that influence microarray assay performance. Correlation of biophysical aspects of single and double-stranded nucleic acids with their complexes in bulk solution is common. Such analysis at surfaces is not commonly reported, despite its importance to microarray assays. We seek to provide further insight into nucleic acid-surface challenges facing microarray diagnostic formats that have hindered their clinical adoption and compromise their research quality and value as genomics tools.
DNA; microarray assay; diagnostics; ssDNA; dsDNA; hybridization; tethered chain; polyelectrolyte; mushroom regime; brush regime; DNA conformation; persistence length; radius of gyration; thermodynamics; kinetics; spacer; diluents; molecular beacons; Coulombic blockage; printed spot heterogeneity; Marangoni; coffee ring; fluorescent signal intensity
The specific binding of HIV-1 nucleocapsid protein (NC) to the different forms assumed in vitro by the stemloop 1 (Lai variant) of the genome’s packaging signal has been investigated using electrospray ionization-Fourier transform mass spectrometry (ESI-FTMS). The simultaneous observation of protein-RNA and RNA-RNA interactions in solution has provided direct information about the role of NC in the two-step model of RNA dimerization and isomerization. In particular, two distinct binding sites have been identified on the monomeric stemloop structure, corresponding to the apical loop and stem-bulge motifs. These sites share similar binding affinities that are intermediate between those of stemloop 3 (SL3) and the putative stemloop 4 (SL4) of the packaging signal. Binding to the apical loop, which contains the dimerization initiation site (DIS), competes directly with the annealing of self-complementary sequences to form a metastable kissing-loop (KL) dimer. In contrast, binding to the stem-bulge affects indirectly the monomer-dimer equilibrium by promoting the rearrangement of KL into the more stable extended duplex (ED) conformer. This process is mediated by the duplex-melting activity of NC, which destabilizes the intramolecular base pairs surrounding the KL stem-bulges and enables their exchange to form the inter-strand pairs that define the ED structure. In this conformer, high-affinity binding takes place at stem-bulge sites that are identical to those present in the monomeric and KL forms. In this case, however, the NC-induced ‘breathing’ does not result in dissociation of the double-stranded structure because of the large number of intermolecular base pairs. The different binding modes manifested by conformer-specific mutants have shown that NC can also provide low affinity interactions with the bulged-out adenines flanking the DIS region of the ED conformer, thus supporting the hypothesis that these exposed nucleotides may constitute ‘base-grips’ for protein contacts during the late stages of the viral lifecycle.
RNA dimerization; RNA isomerization; NC binding; NC chaperone; mass spectrometry
Although mechanisms of single-nucleotide residue deletion have been investigated, processes involved in the loss of longer nucleotide sequences during DNA replication are poorly understood. Previous reports have shown that in vitro replication of a 3′-TGC TGC template sequence can result in the deletion of one 3′-TGC. We have used low-energy circular dichroism (CD) and fluorescence spectroscopy to investigate the conformations and stabilities of DNA models of the replication intermediates that may be implicated in this frameshift. Pyrrolocytosine or 2-aminopurine residues, site-specifically substituted for cytosine or adenine in the vicinity of extruded base sequences, were used as spectroscopic probes to examine local DNA conformations. An equilibrium mixture of four hybridization conformations was observed when template bases looped-out as a bulge, i.e. a structure flanked on both sides by duplex DNA. In contrast, a single-loop structure with an unusual unstacked DNA conformation at its downstream edge was observed when the extruded bases were positioned at the primer–template junction, showing that misalignments can be modified by neighboring DNA secondary structure. These results must be taken into account in considering the genetic and biochemical mechanisms of frameshift mutagenesis in polymerase-driven DNA replication.
Targeting of noncanonical DNA structures,
such as hairpin loops,
may have significant diagnostic and therapeutic potential. Oligonucleotides
can be used for binding to mRNA, forming a DNA/RNA hybrid duplex that
inhibits translation. This kind of modulation of gene expression is
called the antisense approach. In order to determine the best strategy
to target a common structural motif in mRNA, we have designed a set
of stem-loop DNA molecules with sequence: d(GCGCTnGTAAT5GTTACTnGCGC),
where n = 1, 3, or 5, “T5” is an end loop of five thymines. We used a combination
of calorimetric and spectroscopy techniques to determine the thermodynamics
for the reaction of a set of hairpins containing internal loops with
their respective partially complementary strands. Our aim was to determine
if internal- and end-loops are promising regions for targeting with
their corresponding complementary strands. Indeed, all targeting reactions
were accompanied by negative changes in free energy, indicating that
reactions proceed spontaneously. Further investigation showed that
these negative free energy terms result from a net balance of unfavorable
entropy and favorable enthalpy contributions. In particular, unfolding
of hairpins and duplexes is accompanied by positive changes in heat
capacity, which may be a result of exposure of hydrophobic groups
to the solvent. This study provides a new method for the targeting
of mRNA in order to control gene expression.
The double helix is known to form as a result of hybridization
of complementary nucleic acid strands in aqueous solution. In the
helix the negatively charged phosphate groups of each nucleic acid strand
are distributed helically on the outside of the duplex and are available
for interaction with cationic groups. Cation-coated glass surfaces
are now widely used in biotechnology, especially for covalent attachment
of cDNAs and oligonucleotides as surface-bound probes on microarrays.
These cationic surfaces can bind the nucleic acid backbone electrostatically
through the phosphate moiety. Here we describe a simple method to
fabricate DNA microarrays based upon adsorptive rather than covalent attachment
of oligonucleotides to a positively charged surface. We show that
such adsorbed oligonucleotide probes form a densely packed monolayer, which
retains capacity for base pair-specific hybridization with a solution
state DNA target strand to form the duplex. However, both strand
dissociation kinetics and the rate of DNase digestion suggest, on symmetry
grounds, that the target DNA binds to such adsorbed oligonucleotides
to form a highly asymmetrical and unwound duplex. Thus, it is suggested
that, at least on a charged surface, a non-helical DNA duplex can
be the preferred structural isomer under standard biochemical conditions.
Internal loops play an important role in structure and folding of RNA and in RNA recognition by other molecules such as proteins and ligands. An understanding of internal loops with propensities to form a particular structure will help predict RNA structure, recognition, and function. The structures of internal loops 5'1009CUAAG10133'3'1168GAAGC11645' and 5'998CUAAG10023'3'1157GAAGC11535' from helix 40 of the large subunit rRNA in Deinococcus radiodurans and Escherichia coli, respectively, are phylogenetically conserved, suggesting functional relevance. The energetics and NMR solution structure of the loop were determined in the duplex, 5'1GGCUAAGAC93'3'18CCGAAGCUG105' The internal loop forms a different structure in solution than in the crystal structures of the ribosomal subunits. In particular, the crystal structures have a bulged out adenine at the equivalent of position A15 and a reverse Hoogsteen UA pair (trans Watson-Crick/Hoogsteen UA) at the equivalent of U4 and A14, whereas the solution structure has a single hydrogen bond UA pair (cis Watson-Crick/sugar edge A15U4) between U4 and A15 and a sheared AA pair (trans Hoogsteen/sugar edge A14A5) between A5 and A14. There is cross-strand stacking between A6 and A14 (A6/A14/A15 stacking pattern) in the NMR structure. All three structures have a sheared GA pair (trans Hoogsteen/sugar edge A6G13) at the equivalent of A6 and G13. The internal loop has contacts with ribosomal protein L20 and other parts of the RNA in the crystal structures. These contacts presumably provide the free energy to rearrange the base pairing in the loop. Evidently, molecular recognition of this internal loop involves induced fit binding, which could confer several advantages. The predicted thermodynamic stability of the loop agrees with the experimental value, even though the thermodynamic model assumes a Watson–Crick UA pair.
Hybridization intensities of 30 distinct short duplex DNAs measured on spotted microarrays, were directly compared with thermodynamic stabilities measured in solution. DNA sequences were designed to promote formation of perfect match, or hybrid duplexes containing tandem mismatches. Thermodynamic parameters ΔH°, ΔS° and ΔG° of melting transitions in solution were evaluated directly using differential scanning calorimetry. Quantitative comparison with results from 63 multiplex microarray hybridization experiments provided a linear relationship for perfect match and most mismatch duplexes. Examination of outliers suggests that both duplex length and relative position of tandem mismatches could be important factors contributing to observed deviations from linearity. A detailed comparison of measured thermodynamic parameters with those calculated using the nearest-neighbor model was performed. Analysis revealed the nearest-neighbor model generally predicts mismatch duplexes to be less stable than experimentally observed. Results also show the relative stability of a tandem mismatch is highly dependent on the identity of the flanking Watson–Crick (w/c) base pairs. Thus, specifying the stability contribution of a tandem mismatch requires consideration of the sequence identity of at least four base pair units (tandem mismatch and flanking w/c base pairs). These observations underscore the need for rigorous evaluation of thermodynamic parameters describing tandem mismatch stability.
Transactivation of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gene expression requires binding of the viral Tat protein to a RNA hairpin-loop structure (TAR) which contains a two or three-nucleotide bulge. Tat binds in the vicinity of the bulge and the two adjacent duplex stems, recognising both specific sequence and structural features of TAR. Binding is mediated by an arginine-rich domain, placing Tat in the family of arginine-rich RNA binding proteins that includes other transactivators, virus capsid proteins and ribosome binding proteins. In order to determine what features of TAR allow Tat to bind efficiently to RNA but not DNA forms, we examined Tat binding to a series of RNA-DNA hybrids. We found that only one specific strand in each duplex stem region needs to be RNA, implying that interaction between Tat and a given stem may be solely or predominantly with one of the two strands. However, the essential strand is not the same one for each stem, suggesting a switch in the bound strand on opposing sides of the bulge.
We have developed DNA microarrays containing stem–loop DNA probes with short single-stranded overhangs immobilized on a Packard HydroGel chip, a 3-dimensional porous gel substrate. Microarrays were fabricated by immobilizing self-complementary single-stranded oligonucleotides, which adopt a partially duplex structure upon denaturing and re-annealing. Hybridization of single-stranded DNA targets to such arrays is enhanced by contiguous stacking interactions with stem–loop probes and is highly sequence specific. Subsequent enzymatic ligation of the targets to the probes followed by stringent washing further enhances the mismatched base discrimination. We demonstrate here that these microarrays provide excellent specificity with signal-to-background ratios of from 10- to 300-fold. In a comparative study, we demonstrated that HydroGel arrays display 10–30 times higher hybridization signals than some solid surface DNA microarrays. Using Sanger sequencing reactions, we have also developed a method for preparing nested 3′-deletion sets from a target and evaluated the use of stem–loop DNA arrays for detecting p53 mutations in the deletion set. The stem–loop DNA array format is simple, robust and flexible in design, thus it is potentially useful in various DNA diagnostic tests.
Chemical agents that cleave HIV genome can be potentially used for anti-HIV therapy. In this report, the cleavage of the upper stem-loop region of HIV-1 TAR RNA was studied in a variety of buffers containing organic catalysts. trans-(±)-Cyclohexane-1,2-diamine was found to cleave the RNA with the highest activity (31%, 37°C, 18 h). Cleavage of the RNA in trans-(±)-cyclohexane-1,2-diamine buffer was also studied when the RNA was hybridized with complementary DNAs. A pyrene-modified C3 spacer was incorporated to the DNA strand to facilitate the formation of a RNA bulge loop in the RNA/DNA duplex. In contrast, unmodified DNAs cannot efficiently generate RNA bulge loops, regardless of the DNA sequences. The results showed that the pyrene-stablized RNA bulge loops were efficiently and site-specifically cleaved by trans-(±)-cyclohexane-1,2-diamine.
The effects of ions (i.e. Na+, Mg2+ and polyamines including spermidine and spermine) on the stability of various DNA oligonucleotides in solution were studied. These synthetic DNA molecules contained sequences that mimic various cellular DNA structures, such as duplexes, bulged loops, hairpins and/or mismatched base pairs. Melting temperature curves obtained from the ultraviolet spectroscopic experiments indicated that the effectiveness of the stabilization of cations on the duplex formation follows the order of spermine > spermidine > Mg2+ > Na+ > Tris–HCl buffer alone at pH 7.3. Circular dichroism spectra showed that salts and polyamines did not change the secondary structures of those DNA molecules under study. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) observations suggested that the rates of duplex formation are independent of the kind of cations used or the structure of the duplexes. However, the rate constants of DNA duplex dissociation decrease in the same order when those cations are involved. The enhancement of the duplex stability by polyamines, especially spermine, can compensate for the instability caused by abnormal structures (e.g. bulged loops, hairpins or mismatches). The effects can be so great as to make the abnormal DNAs as stable as the perfect duplex, both kinetically and thermodynamically. Our results may suggest that the interconversion of various DNA structures can be accomplished readily in the presence of polyamine. This may be relevant in understanding the role of DNA polymorphism in cells.
Application of high-density microarrays to the diagnostic analysis of microbial communities is challenged by the optimization of oligonucleotide probe sensitivity and specificity, as it is generally unfeasible to experimentally test thousands of probes. This study investigated the adjustment of hybridization stringency using formamide with the idea that sensitivity and specificity can be optimized during probe design if the hybridization efficiency of oligonucleotides with target and non-target molecules can be predicted as a function of formamide concentration. Sigmoidal denaturation profiles were obtained using fluorescently labeled and fragmented 16S rRNA gene amplicon of Escherichia coli as the target with increasing concentrations of formamide in the hybridization buffer. A linear free energy model (LFEM) was developed and microarray-specific nearest neighbor rules were derived. The model simulated formamide melting with a denaturant m-value that increased hybridization free energy (ΔG°) by 0.173 kcal/mol per percent of formamide added (v/v). Using the LFEM and specific probe sets, free energy rules were systematically established to predict the stability of single and double mismatches, including bulged and tandem mismatches. The absolute error in predicting the position of experimental denaturation profiles was less than 5% formamide for more than 90 percent of probes, enabling a practical level of accuracy in probe design. The potential of the modeling approach for probe design and optimization is demonstrated using a dataset including the 16S rRNA gene of Rhodobacter sphaeroides as an additional target molecule. The LFEM and thermodynamic databases were incorporated into a computational tool (ProbeMelt) that is freely available at http://DECIPHER.cee.wisc.edu.
Computing accurate nucleic acid melting temperatures has become a crucial step for the efficiency and the optimisation of numerous molecular biology techniques such as in situ hybridization, PCR, antigene targeting, and microarrays. MELTING is a free open source software which computes the enthalpy, entropy and melting temperature of nucleic acids. MELTING 4.2 was able to handle several types of hybridization such as DNA/DNA, RNA/RNA, DNA/RNA and provided corrections to melting temperatures due to the presence of sodium. The program can use either an approximative approach or a more accurate Nearest-Neighbor approach.
Two new versions of the MELTING software have been released. MELTING 4.3 is a direct update of version 4.2, integrating newly available thermodynamic parameters for inosine, a modified adenine base with an universal base capacity, and incorporates a correction for magnesium. MELTING 5 is a complete reimplementation which allows much greater flexibility and extensibility. It incorporates all the thermodynamic parameters and corrections provided in MELTING 4.x and introduces a large set of thermodynamic formulae and parameters, to facilitate the calculation of melting temperatures for perfectly matching sequences, mismatches, bulge loops, CNG repeats, dangling ends, inosines, locked nucleic acids, 2-hydroxyadenines and azobenzenes. It also includes temperature corrections for monovalent ions (sodium, potassium, Tris), magnesium ions and commonly used denaturing agents such as formamide and DMSO.
MELTING is a useful and very flexible tool for predicting melting temperatures using approximative formulae or Nearest-Neighbor approaches, where one can select different sets of Nearest-Neighbor parameters, corrections and formulae. Both versions are freely available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/melting/and at http://www.ebi.ac.uk/compneur-srv/melting/under the terms of the GPL license.
DNA bulges are biologically consequential defects that can arise from template-primer misalignments during replication and pose challenges to the cellular DNA repair machinery. Calorimetric and spectroscopic characterizations of defect-containing duplexes reveal systematic patterns of sequence-context dependent bulge-induced destabilizations. These distinguishing energetic signatures are manifest in three coupled characteristics, namely: the magnitude of the bulge-induced duplex destabilization (ΔΔGBulge); the thermodynamic origins of ΔΔGBulge (i.e. enthalpic versus entropic); and, the cooperativity of the duplex melting transition (i.e. two-state versus non-two state). We find moderately destabilized duplexes undergo two-state dissociation and exhibit ΔΔGBulge values consistent with localized, nearest neighbor perturbations arising from unfavorable entropic contributions. Conversely, strongly destabilized duplexes melt in a non-two-state manner and exhibit ΔΔGBulge values consistent with perturbations exceeding nearest-neighbor expectations that are enthalpic in origin. Significantly, our data reveal an intriguing correlation in which the energetic impact of a single bulge base centered in one strand portends the impact of the corresponding complementary bulge base embedded in the opposite strand. We discuss potential correlations between these bulge-specific differential energetic profiles and their overall biological implications in terms of DNA recognition, repair and replication.
A 30 base pair parallel-stranded (ps) duplex ps-L1.L2 composed of two adjoined purine-purine and purine-pyrimidine sequence blocks has been characterized thermodynamically and spectroscopically. The 5'-terminal 15 residues in both strands ('left-half') consisted of the alternating d(GA)7G sequence that forms a ps homoduplex secondary structure stabilized by d(G.G) and d(A.A) base pairs. The 3'-terminal 15 positions of the sequence ('right-half') were combinations of A and T with complementary reverse Watson-Crick d(A.T) base pairing between the two strands. The characteristics of the full length duplex were compared to those of the constituent left and right halves in order to determine the compatibility of the two ps helical forms. The thermal denaturation curves and hyperchromicity profiles of all three duplexes determined by UV absorption spectroscopy were characteristic of ps-DNA, in accordance with previous studies. The thermodynamic properties of the 30 bp duplex corresponded within experimental error to the linear combination of the two 15-mers. Thus, the Tm and delta HvH of ps-L1.L2 in 10 mM MgCl2, derived from analyses according to a statistical mechanical formulation for the helix-coil transition, were 43 degrees C and 569 kJ mol-1, compared to 21 degrees C, 315 kJ mol-1 (ps-F5.F6) and 22 degrees C, 236 kJ mol-1 (ps-GA15). The UV absorption and CD spectra of ps-L1.L2 and the individual 15-mer ps motifs were also compared quantitatively. The sums of the two constituent native spectra (left+right halves) accurately matched that of the 30 bp duplex, with only small deviations in the 195-215 nm (CD) and 220-240 nm (absorption) regions. Based on analysis by native gel electrophoresis, the sequences studied formed duplex structures exclusively; there were no indications of higher order species. Chemical modification with diethyl pyrocarbonate showed no hyperreactivity of the junctional bases, indicating a smooth transition between the two parallel-stranded conformations. We conclude that under given salt conditions, oligonucleotides with normal primary chemical structures can readily form a parallel-stranded double helix based on blocks of very disparate non-canonical purine-purine and purine-pyrimidine base pairs and without perceptible destabilization at the junction. There are biological implications of these findings in relation to genetic structure and expression.