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1.  Manual-assisted cognitive therapy for self-harm in personality disorder and substance misuse: a feasibility trial 
The Psychiatric Bulletin  2014;38(3):108-111.
Aims and method To assess the feasibility of conducting a larger, definitive randomised controlled trial of manual-assisted cognitive therapy (MACT), a brief focused therapy to address self-harm and promote engagement in services. We established recruitment, randomisation and assessment of outcome within a sample of these complex patients admitted to a general hospital following self-harm. We assessed symptoms of depressed mood, anxiety and suicidality at baseline and at 3 months’ follow-up.
Results Twenty patients were randomised to the trial following an index episode of self-harm, and those allocated to MACT demonstrated improvement in anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.
Clinical implications It is feasible to recruit a sample of these complex patients to a randomised controlled trial of MACT following an index episode of self-harm. There is preliminary support that MACT could be an acceptable and effective intervention in patients with personality disorder and substance misuse.
PMCID: PMC4115373  PMID: 25237519
2.  Force-induced melting of DNA—evidence for peeling and internal melting from force spectra on short synthetic duplex sequences 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(12):8083-8091.
Overstretching of DNA occurs at about 60–70 pN when a torsionally unconstrained double-stranded DNA molecule is stretched by its ends. During the transition, the contour length increases by up to 70% without complete strand dissociation. Three mechanisms are thought to be involved: force-induced melting into single-stranded DNA where either one or both strands carry the tension, or a B-to-S transition into a longer, still base-paired conformation. We stretch sequence-designed oligonucleotides in an effort to isolate the three processes, focusing on force-induced melting. By introducing site-specific inter-strand cross-links in one or both ends of a 64 bp AT-rich duplex we could repeatedly follow the two melting processes at 5 mM and 1 M monovalent salt. We find that when one end is sealed the AT-rich sequence undergoes peeling exhibiting hysteresis at low and high salt. When both ends are sealed the AT sequence instead undergoes internal melting. Thirdly, the peeling melting is studied in a composite oligonucleotide where the same AT-rich sequence is concatenated to a GC-rich sequence known to undergo a B-to-S transition rather than melting. The construct then first melts in the AT-rich part followed at higher forces by a B-to-S transition in the GC-part, indicating that DNA overstretching modes are additive.
PMCID: PMC4081069  PMID: 24838568
3.  A Mutant of Uracil DNA Glycosylase That Distinguishes between Cytosine and 5-Methylcytosine 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95394.
We demonstrate that a mutant of uracil DNA glycosylase (N123D:L191A) distinguishes between cytosine and methylcytosine. Uracil DNA glycosylase (UDG) efficiently removes uracil from DNA in a reaction in which the base is flipped into the enzyme’s active site. Uracil is selected over cytosine by a pattern of specific hydrogen bonds, and thymine is excluded by steric clash of its 5-methyl group with Y66. The N123D mutation generates an enzyme that excises cytosine. This N123D:L191A mutant excises C when it is mispaired with A or opposite an abasic site, but not when it is paired with G. In contrast no cleavage is observed with any substrates that contain 5-methylcytosine. This enzyme may offer a new approach for discriminating between cytosine and 5-methylcytosine.
PMCID: PMC3989344  PMID: 24740413
4.  Efficient self-assembly of DNA-functionalized fluorophores and gold nanoparticles with DNA functionalized silicon surfaces: the effect of oligomer spacers 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(7):e80.
Although strategies for the immobilization of DNA oligonucleotides onto surfaces for bioanalytical and top-down bio-inspired nanobiofabrication approaches are well developed, the effect of introducing spacer molecules between the surface and the DNA oligonucleotide for the hybridization of nanoparticle–DNA conjugates has not been previously assessed in a quantitative manner. The hybridization efficiency of DNA oligonucleotides end-labelled with gold nanoparticles (1.4 or 10 nm diameter) with DNA sequences conjugated to silicon surfaces via hexaethylene glycol phosphate diester oligomer spacers (0, 1, 2, 6 oligomers) was found to be independent of spacer length. To quantify both the density of DNA strands attached to the surfaces and hybridization with the surface-attached DNA, new methodologies have been developed. Firstly, a simple approach based on fluorescence has been developed for determination of the immobilization density of DNA oligonucleotides. Secondly, an approach using mass spectrometry has been created to establish (i) the mean number of DNA oligonucleotides attached to the gold nanoparticles and (ii) the hybridization density of nanoparticle–oligonucleotide conjugates with the silicon surface–attached complementary sequence. These methods and results will be useful for application with nanosensors, the self-assembly of nanoelectronic devices and the attachment of nanoparticles to biomolecules for single-molecule biophysical studies.
PMCID: PMC3627567  PMID: 23361467
5.  Assessing the biocompatibility of click-linked DNA in Escherichia coli 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(20):10567-10575.
The biocompatibility of a triazole mimic of the DNA phosphodiester linkage in Escherichia coli has been evaluated. The requirement for selective pressure on the click-containing gene was probed via a plasmid containing click DNA backbone linkages in each strand of the gene encoding the fluorescent protein mCherry. The effect of proximity of the click linkers on their biocompatibility was also probed by placing two click DNA linkers 4-bp apart at the region encoding the fluorophore of the fluorescent protein. The resulting click-containing plasmid was found to encode mCherry in E. coli at a similar level to the canonical equivalent. The ability of the cellular machinery to read through click-linked DNA was further probed by using the above click-linked plasmid to express mCherry using an in vitro transcription/translation system, and found to also be similar to that from canonical DNA. The yield and fluorescence of recombinant mCherry expressed from the click-linked plasmid was also compared to that from the canonical equivalent, and found to be the same. The biocompatibility of click DNA ligation sites at close proximity in a non-essential gene demonstrated in E. coli suggests the possibility of using click DNA ligation for the enzyme-free assembly of chemically modified genes and genomes.
PMCID: PMC3488222  PMID: 22904087
6.  A highly fluorescent DNA toolkit: synthesis and properties of oligonucleotides containing new Cy3, Cy5 and Cy3B monomers 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(14):e108.
Cy3B is an extremely bright and stable fluorescent dye, which is only available for coupling to nucleic acids post-synthetically. This severely limits its use in the fields of genomics, biology and nanotechnology. We have optimized the synthesis of Cy3B, and for the first time produced a diverse range of Cy3B monomers for use in solid-phase oligonucleotide synthesis. This molecular toolkit includes phosphoramidite monomers with Cy3B linked to deoxyribose, to the 5-position of thymine, and to a hexynyl linker, in addition to an oligonucleotide synthesis resin in which Cy3B is linked to deoxyribose. These monomers have been used to incorporate single and multiple Cy3B units into oligonucleotides internally and at both termini. Cy3B Taqman probes, Scorpions and HyBeacons have been synthesized and used successfully in mutation detection, and a dual Cy3B Molecular Beacon was synthesized and found to be superior to the corresponding Cy3B/DABCYL Beacon. Attachment of Cy3, Cy3B and Cy5 to the 5-position of thymidine by an ethynyl linker enabled the synthesis of an oligonucleotide FRET system. The rigid linker between the dye and nucleobase minimizes dye–dye and dye–DNA interactions and reduces fluorescence quenching. These reagents open up new future applications of Cy3B, including more sensitive single-molecule and cell-imaging studies.
PMCID: PMC3413114  PMID: 22495935
7.  Secondary binding sites for heavily modified triplex forming oligonucleotides 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(8):3753-3762.
In order to enhance DNA triple helix stability synthetic oligonucleotides have been developed that bear amino groups on the sugar or base. One of the most effective of these is bis-amino-U (B), which possesses 5-propargylamino and 2′-aminoethoxy modifications. Inclusion of this modified nucleotide not only greatly enhances triplex stability, but also increases the affinity for related sequences. We have used a restriction enzyme protection, selection and amplification assay (REPSA) to isolate sequences that are bound by the heavily modified 9-mer triplex-forming oligonucleotide B6CBT. The isolated sequences contain An tracts (n = 6), suggesting that the 5′-end of this TFO was responsible for successful triplex formation. DNase I footprinting with these sequences confirmed triple helix formation at these secondary targets and demonstrated no interaction with similar oligonucleotides containing T or 5-propargylamino-dU.
PMCID: PMC3333850  PMID: 22180535
8.  PNA HyBeacons for analysis of human mutations related to statin-induced myopathy 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2011;2(3):79-89.
Aminoalkyl and alkyne-tagged PNA HyBeacons have been synthesized, labeled with fluorescein via conventional amide bond or triazole formation (click chemistry) and used to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) implicated in statin-induced myopathy. The PNA HyBeacons gave much better mismatch/mutant discrimination than conventional DNA HyBeacons but smaller fluorescence changes on melting.
PMCID: PMC3324338  PMID: 22567191
fluorescence melting; genetic analysis; HyBeacon; PNA; SNPs; statin-induced myopathy
9.  Characterization of photophysical and base-mimicking properties of a novel fluorescent adenine analogue in DNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(10):4513-4524.
To increase the diversity of fluorescent base analogues with improved properties, we here present the straightforward click-chemistry-based synthesis of a novel fluorescent adenine-analogue triazole adenine (AT) and its photophysical characterization inside DNA. AT shows promising properties compared to the widely used adenine analogue 2-aminopurine. Quantum yields reach >20% and >5% in single- and double-stranded DNA, respectively, and show dependence on neighbouring bases. Moreover, AT shows only a minor destabilization of DNA duplexes, comparable to 2-aminopurine, and circular dichroism investigations suggest that AT only causes minimal structural perturbations to normal B-DNA. Furthermore, we find that AT shows favourable base-pairing properties with thymine and more surprisingly also with normal adenine. In conclusion, AT shows strong potential as a new fluorescent adenine analogue for monitoring changes within its microenvironment in DNA.
PMCID: PMC3105426  PMID: 21278417
10.  Peptide nucleic acid probes with charged photocleavable mass markers 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2010;1(1):27-35.
Halogen-labelled peptide organic acid (HPOA) monomers have been synthesised and incorporated into sequence-specific peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probes. Three different types of probe have been prepared; the unmodified PNA probe, the PNA probe with a mass marker, and the PNA probe with photocleavable mass marker. All three types of probe have been used in model studies to develop a mass spectrometry-based hybridisation assay for detection of point mutations in DNA.
PMCID: PMC3109446  PMID: 21687524
peptide nucleic acid; photocleavable mass marker tag; genetic analysis; halogen-labelled peptide organic acid; SNP
11.  DNA triplex formation with 5-dimethylaminopropargyl deoxyuridine 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;37(4):1288-1296.
We have prepared triplex-forming oligonucleotides containing the nucleotide analogue 5-dimethylaminopropargyl deoxyuridine (DMAPdU) in place of thymidine and examined their ability to form intermolecular triple helices by thermal melting and DNase I footprinting studies. The results were compared with those for oligonucleotides containing 5-aminopropargyl-dU (APdU), 5-guanidinopropargyl-dU (GPdU) and 5-propynyl dU (PdU). We find that DMAPdU enhances triplex stability relative to T, though slightly less than the other analogues that bear positive charges (T << PdU < DMAPdU < APdU < GPdU). For oligonucleotides that contain multiple substitutions with DMAPdU dispersed residues are more effective than clustered combinations. DMAPdU will be especially useful as a nucleotide analogue as, unlike APdU and GPdU, the base does not require protection during oligonucleotide synthesis and it can therefore be used with other derivatives that require mild deprotection conditions.
PMCID: PMC2651792  PMID: 19139069
12.  IL-22 is required for Th17 cell–mediated pathology in a mouse model of psoriasis-like skin inflammation 
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease resulting from the dysregulated interplay between keratinocytes and infiltrating immune cells. We report on a psoriasis-like disease model, which is induced by the transfer of CD4+CD45RBhiCD25– cells to pathogen-free scid/scid mice. Psoriasis-like lesions had elevated levels of antimicrobial peptide and proinflammatory cytokine mRNA. Also, similar to psoriasis, disease progression in this model was dependent on the p40 common to IL-12 and IL-23. To investigate the role of IL-22, a Th17 cytokine, in disease progression, mice were treated with IL-22–neutralizing antibodies. Neutralization of IL-22 prevented the development of disease, reducing acanthosis (thickening of the skin), inflammatory infiltrates, and expression of Th17 cytokines. Direct administration of IL-22 into the skin of normal mice induced both antimicrobial peptide and proinflammatory cytokine gene expression. Our data suggest that IL-22, which acts on keratinocytes and other nonhematopoietic cells, is required for development of the autoreactive Th17 cell–dependent disease in this model of skin inflammation. We propose that IL-22 antagonism might be a promising therapy for the treatment of human psoriasis.
PMCID: PMC2200300  PMID: 18202747
13.  Characterization and use of an unprecedentedly bright and structurally non-perturbing fluorescent DNA base analogue 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;36(1):157-167.
This article presents the first evidence that the DNA base analogue 1,3-diaza-2-oxophenoxazine, tCO, is highly fluorescent, both as free nucleoside and incorporated in an arbitrary DNA structure. tCO is thoroughly characterized with respect to its photophysical properties and structural performance in single- and double-stranded oligonucleotides. The lowest energy absorption band at 360 nm (ε = 9000 M−1 cm−1) is dominated by a single in-plane polarized electronic transition and the fluorescence, centred at 465 nm, has a quantum yield of 0.3. When incorporated into double-stranded DNA, tCO shows only minor variations in fluorescence intensity and lifetime with neighbouring bases, and the average quantum yield is 0.22. These features make tCO, on average, the brightest DNA-incorporated base analogue so far reported. Furthermore, it base pairs exclusively with guanine and causes minimal perturbations to the native structure of DNA. These properties make tCO a promising base analogue that is perfectly suited for e.g. photophysical studies of DNA interacting with macromolecules (proteins) or for determining size and shape of DNA tertiary structures using techniques such as fluorescence anisotropy and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET).
PMCID: PMC2248743  PMID: 18003656
14.  Intramolecular DNA quadruplexes with different arrangements of short and long loops 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(12):4214-4222.
We have examined the folding, stability and kinetics of intramolecular quadruplexes formed by DNA sequences containing four G3 tracts separated by either single T or T4 loops. All these sequences fold to form intramolecular quadruplexes and 1D-NMR spectra suggest that they each adopt unique structures (with the exception of the sequence with all three loops containing T4, which is polymorphic). The stability increases with the number of single T loops, though the arrangement of different length loops has little effect. In the presence of potassium ions, the oligonucleotides that contain at least one single T loop exhibit similar CD spectra, which are indicative of a parallel topology. In contrast, when all three loops are substituted with T4 the CD spectrum is typical of an antiparallel arrangement. In the presence of sodium ions, the sequences with two and three single T loops also adopt a parallel folded structure. Kinetic studies on the complexes with one or two T4 loops in the presence of potassium ions reveal that sequences with longer loops display slower folding rates.
PMCID: PMC1919480  PMID: 17576685
15.  Electrospray ionisation-cleavable tandem nucleic acid mass tag–peptide nucleic acid conjugates: synthesis and applications to quantitative genomic analysis using electrospray ionisation-MS/MS 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(4):e28.
The synthesis and characterization of isotopomer tandem nucleic acid mass tag–peptide nucleic acid (TNT–PNA) conjugates is described along with their use as electrospray ionisation-cleavable (ESI-Cleavable) hybridization probes for the detection and quantification of target DNA sequences by electrospray ionisation tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS). ESI-cleavable peptide TNT isotopomers were introduced into PNA oligonucleotide sequences in a total synthesis approach. These conjugates were evaluated as hybridization probes for the detection and quantification of immobilized synthetic target DNAs using ESI-MS/MS. In these experiments, the PNA portion of the conjugate acts as a hybridization probe, whereas the peptide TNT is released in a collision-based process during the ionization of the probe conjugate in the electrospray ion source. The cleaved TNT acts as a uniquely resolvable marker to identify and quantify a unique target DNA sequence. The method should be applicable to a wide variety of assays requiring highly multiplexed, quantitative DNA/RNA analysis, including gene expression monitoring, genetic profiling and the detection of pathogens.
PMCID: PMC1994780  PMID: 17259215
16.  Multiple-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Safety of the New Antifungal Triazole BAL4815 after Intravenous Infusion and Oral Administration of Its Prodrug, BAL8557, in Healthy Volunteers 
BAL8557 is the water-soluble prodrug of BAL4815, a new broad-spectrum antifungal. Healthy male subjects were randomly assigned to four treatment cohorts to receive multiple oral doses or multiple 1-h constant-rate intravenous infusions of BAL8557. Loading doses of BAL8557 were equivalent to 100 mg (followed by once-daily maintenance doses of 50 mg) or 200 mg (followed by once-daily maintenance doses of 100 mg) of BAL4815. In each cohort, six subjects received active drug and two subjects received the placebo. Study duration was 21 days (oral) and 14 days (intravenous). All adverse events reported were mild or moderate, except one severe rhinitis event which was not related to trial medication. After both routes of administration, maximum drug concentration observed in plasma (Cmax) and area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) values of BAL4815 increased proportionally to the administered dose. AUC values reflected a fourfold to fivefold accumulation of active drug in plasma during once-daily dosing, which is in line with the long elimination half-life of BAL4815 determined after the last administration (mean, 84.5 to 117 h). At steady state, the volume of distribution was large and amounted to 308 to 542 liters. Systemic clearance reached only 2.4 to 4.1 liter/h. At the levels obtained in the present study, Cmax values of 2.56 and 2.55 μg/ml after oral and intravenous administrations, respectively, there was no indication of CYP3A4 induction or inhibition (as revealed by the urinary 6-β-hydroxycortisol/cortisol test). Based on AUC values after oral and intravenous administration, an excellent oral bioavailability can be predicted for BAL4815. Once-daily oral dosing of 50- or 100-mg equivalents of BAL8557 were recently demonstrated to be efficacious in a phase 2 study conducted with patients with esophageal candidiasis. These doses (preceded by adequate loading dose[s]) will be further explored in the treatment of systemic mycoses.
PMCID: PMC1346776  PMID: 16377699
17.  Single-Ascending-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Safety of the Novel Broad-Spectrum Antifungal Triazole BAL4815 after Intravenous Infusions (50, 100, and 200 Milligrams) and Oral Administrations (100, 200, and 400 Milligrams) of Its Prodrug, BAL8557, in Healthy Volunteers 
BAL8557 is the water-soluble prodrug of a novel antifungal triazole, BAL4815. BAL4815 is active against a broad spectrum of major opportunistic and pathogenic fungi, including strains that are resistant to other azoles. Cohorts of healthy male subjects received single-ascending oral (p.o.) doses of BAL8557 that were equivalent to 100, 200, or 400 mg of BAL4815 or single-ascending, 1-h constant-rate intravenous (i.v.) infusions of BAL8557 which were equivalent to 50, 100, or 200 mg of BAL4815. In each cohort, six subjects were randomly assigned to receive active drug and two subjects were assigned to receive the placebo. All doses were well tolerated, and no severe or serious adverse events occurred. Maximum plasma concentrations of BAL4815 were observed 1.5 to 3 h after p.o. drug intake or at the end of the 1-h infusion. After both routes of administration, values for maximum drug concentration observed in plasma and area under the concentration-time curve increased slightly more than proportionally to the administered dose. Mean elimination half-lives were particularly long (56 to 77 h after p.o. administration and 76 to 104 h after i.v. administration). The volume of distribution was large (155 to 292 liters after p.o. administration and 304 to 494 liters after i.v. administration) and systemic clearance was low (1.9 to 2.8 liter/h after p.o. administration and 2.8 to 5.0 liter/h after i.v. administration). Urinary recovery of BAL4815 was less than 0.4% of the infused dose. Based on the exposure data, oral bioavailability of BAL4815 is assumed to be very high. The pharmacokinetics of BAL4815 are well suited to maintaining concentrations of BAL4815 for a long period of time in the body and to enabling an effective treatment of systemic mycoses.
PMCID: PMC1346775  PMID: 16377698
18.  Fluorescent properties of DNA base analogue tC upon incorporation into DNA — negligible influence of neighbouring bases on fluorescence quantum yield 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(16):5019-5025.
The quantum yield of the fluorescent tricyclic cytosine analogue, 1,3-diaza-2-oxophenothiazine, tC, is high and virtually unaffected by incorporation into both single- and double-stranded DNA irrespective of neighbouring bases (0.17–0.24 and 0.16–0.21, respectively) and the corresponding fluorescence decay curves are all mono-exponential, properties that are unmatched by any base analogue so far. The fluorescence lifetimes increase when going from tC free in solution (3.2 ns) to single- and double-stranded DNA (on average 5.7 and 6.3 ns, respectively). The mono-exponential decays further support previous NMR results where it was found that tC has a well-defined position and geometry within the DNA helix. Furthermore, we find that the oxidation potential of tC is 0.4 V lower than for deoxyguanosine, the natural base with the lowest oxidation potential. This suggests that tC may be of interest in charge transfer studies in DNA as an electron hole acceptor. We also present a novel synthetic route to the phosphoramidite form of tC. The results presented here together with previous work show that tC is a very good C-analogue that induces minimal perturbation to the native structure of DNA. This makes tC unique as a fluorescent base analogue and is thus highly interesting in a range of applications for studying e.g. structure, dynamics and kinetics in nucleic acid systems.
PMCID: PMC1201328  PMID: 16147985
19.  Giving patients an audiotape of their GP consultation: a randomised controlled trial 
Background: Providing patients with an audiotape of their medical consultation has been a relatively common practice in oncology clinics for some years. However, broader generalisability of the technique has yet to be examined.
Aims: To investigate the efficacy of providing patients with an audiotape of their consultation in a general practice setting.
Design of study: Randomised controlled trial: 95 experimental participants, 85 controls.
Setting: Routine surgeries run by two general practitioners (GPs) in two different health centres.
Method: All patients attending GP appointments were eligible for inclusion. Patients were followed up by telephone 7–10 days later.
Results: More than half (61%) of the patients who received a tape listened to it. Among listeners, 64% rated the tape useful or very useful; 24% noticed information not heard in the consultation. Half of listeners (46%) said that their understanding of the consultation improved after listening to the tape. Half of the listeners (48%) shared the tape with others, of whom 71% found sharing helpful or very helpful. However, 21% of those who shared the information with others found this unhelpful or very unhelpful, suggesting that patients may need to be briefed on the potential risks of sharing. At follow-up a week later, it emerged that being given a tape had no effect on adherence with GPs' advice, nor on anxiety about conditions.
Conclusion: Providing patients with an audiotape of their GP consultation was positively rated by many patients. Although there were no detectable clinical effects at follow-up, the technique merits further evaluation in general practice.
PMCID: PMC1326067  PMID: 15353052
anxiety; family practice; patient compliance; physician–patient relations; randomised controlled trial; tape recording
20.  Four base recognition by triplex-forming oligonucleotides at physiological pH 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(9):3025-3032.
We have achieved recognition of all 4 bp by triple helix formation at physiological pH, using triplex-forming oligonucleotides that contain four different synthetic nucleotides. BAU [2′-aminoethoxy-5-(3-aminoprop-1-ynyl)uridine] recognizes AT base pairs with high affinity, MeP (3-methyl-2 aminopyridine) binds to GC at higher pHs than cytosine, while APP (6-(3-aminopropyl)-7-methyl-3H-pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidin-2(7H)-one) and S [N-(4-(3-acetamidophenyl)thiazol-2-yl-acetamide)] bind to CG and TA base pairs, respectively. Fluorescence melting and DNase I footprinting demonstrate successful triplex formation at a 19mer oligopurine sequence that contains two CG and two TA interruptions. The complexes are pH dependent, but are still stable at pH 7.0. BAU, MeP and APP retain considerable selectivity, and single base pair changes opposite these residues cause a large reduction in affinity. In contrast, S is less selective and tolerates CG pairs as well as TA.
PMCID: PMC1137030  PMID: 15911633
21.  DNA adopts normal B-form upon incorporation of highly fluorescent DNA base analogue tC: NMR structure and UV-Vis spectroscopy characterization 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(17):5087-5095.
The influence of the highly fluorescent tricyclic cytosine base analogue (tC) on duplex DNA conformation is investigated. The duplex properties are characterized by absorbance and circular dichroism (CD) for all combinations of neighbouring bases to tC, and an NMR structure is determined for one tC-containing sequence. For the oligonucleotides with one tC incorporated instead of cytosine, the melting temperature is increased on average by 2.7°C above that for the unmodified ones. CD spectra are practically identical for modified and unmodified sequences, indicating an unperturbed B-DNA conformation. The NMR structure determination of the self-complementary sequence 5′-CTC(tC)ACGTGGAG shows a DNA conformation consistent with B-form for the whole duplex. The root-mean-square distance for the nucleotides of the eight central base pairs between the 10 structures with lowest CYANA target functions and a mean structure is 0.45 ± 0.17 Å. The NMR data confirm correct base pairing for tC by the observation of both intrastrand and interstrand imino proton NOEs. Altogether, this suggests that tC works well as a cytosine analogue, i.e. it is situated in the base stack, forming hydrogen bonds with G in the complementary strand, without distorting the DNA backbone conformation. This first example of an artificial, highly fluorescent DNA base that does not perturb the DNA conformation could have valuable applications for the study of the structure and dynamics of nucleic acid systems.
PMCID: PMC521657  PMID: 15452275
22.  Selectivity and affinity of triplex-forming oligonucleotides containing 2′-aminoethoxy-5-(3-aminoprop-1-ynyl)uridine for recognizing AT base pairs in duplex DNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(15):4439-4447.
We have used DNase I footprinting, fluorescence and ultraviolet (UV) melting experiments and circular dichroism to demonstrate that, in the parallel triplex binding motif, 2′-aminoethoxy-5-(3-aminoprop-1-ynyl)uridine (bis-amino-U, BAU) has very high affinity for AT relative to all other Watson–Crick base pairs in DNA. Complexes containing two or more substitutions with this nucleotide analogue are stable at pH 7.0, even though they contain several C.GC base triplets. These modified triplex-forming oligonucleotides retain exquisite sequence specificity, with enhanced discrimination against YR base pairs (especially CG). These properties make BAU a useful base analogue for the sequence-specific creation of stable triple helices at pH 7.0.
PMCID: PMC516051  PMID: 15317869
23.  DNA sequence recognition by an isopropyl substituted thiazole polyamide 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(11):3410-3417.
We have used DNA footprinting and fluorescence melting experiments to study the sequence-specific binding of a novel minor groove binding ligand (thiazotropsin A), containing an isopropyl substituted thiazole polyamide, to DNA. In one fragment, which contains every tetranucleotide sequence, sub-micromolar concentrations of the ligand generate a single footprint at the sequence ACTAGT. This sequence preference is confirmed in melting experiments with fluorescently labelled oligonucleotides. Experiments with DNA fragments that contain variants of this sequence suggest that the ligand also binds, with slightly lower affinity, to sequences of the type XCYRGZ, where X is any base except C, and Z is any base except G.
PMCID: PMC443542  PMID: 15247333
24.  Thermodynamic and kinetic stability of intermolecular triple helices containing different proportions of C+·GC and T·AT triplets 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(19):5598-5606.
We have used oligonucleotides containing appropriately placed fluorophores and quenchers to measure the stability of 15mer intermolecular triplexes with third strands consisting of repeats of TTT, TTC, TCC and TCTC. In the presence of 200 mM sodium (pH 5.0) triplexes that contain only T·AT triplets are unstable and melt below 30°C. In contrast, triplets with repeats of TTC, TCC and CTCT melt at 67, 72 and 76°C, respectively. The most stable complex is generated by the sequence containing alternating C+·GC and T·AT triplets. All four triplexes are stabilised by increasing the ionic strength or by the addition of magnesium, although triplexes with a higher proportion of C+·GC triplets are much less sensitive to changes in the ionic conditions. The enthalpies of formation of these triplexes were estimated by examining the concentration dependence of the melting profiles and show that, in the presence of 200 mM sodium at pH 5.0, each C+·GC triplet contributes about 30 kJ mol–1, while each T·AT contributes only 11 kJ mol–1. Kinetic experiments with these oligonucleotides show that in 200 mM sodium (pH 5.0) repeats of TCC and TTC have half-lives of ∼20 min, while the triplex with alternating C+·GC and T·AT triplets has a half-life of ∼3 days. In contrast, the dissociation kinetics of the triplex containing only T·AT are too fast to measure.
PMCID: PMC206477  PMID: 14500823
25.  The solution structure of a DNA·RNA duplex containing 5-propynyl U and C; comparison with 5-Me modifications 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(10):2683-2693.
The addition of the propynyl group at the 5 position of pyrimidine nucleotides is highly stabilising. We have determined the thermodynamic stability of the DNA·RNA hybrid r(GAAGAGAAGC)·d(GCpUpUpCpUp CpUpUpC) where p is the propynyl group at the 5 position and compared it with that of the unmodified duplex and the effects of methyl substitutions. The incorporation of the propyne group at the 5 position gives rise to a very large stabilisation of the hybrid duplex compared with the analogous 5-Me modification. The duplexes have been characterised by gel electrophoresis and NMR spectroscopy, which indicate that methyl substitutions have a smaller influence on local and global conformation than the propynyl groups. The increased NMR spectral dispersion of the propyne-modified duplex allowed a larger number of experimental restraints to be measured. Restrained molecular dynamics in a fully solvated system showed that the propyne modification leads to substantial conformational rearrangements stabilising a more A-like structure. The propynyl groups occupy a large part of the major groove and make favourable van der Waals interactions with their nearest neighbours and the atoms of the rings. This enhanced overlap may account at least in part for the increased thermodynamic stability. Furthermore, the simulations show a spine of hydration in the major groove as well as in the minor groove involving the RNA hydroxyl groups.
PMCID: PMC156038  PMID: 12736318

Results 1-25 (34)