Interaction of minor groove ligands with G-quadruplexes: Thermodynamic contributions of the number of quartets, T-U substitutions, and conformation

Iztok Prislan, Irine Khutsishvili, Luis A. Marky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


In the presence of specific metal ions, DNA oligonucleotides containing guanine repeat sequences can adopt G-quadruplex structures. In this work, we used a combination of spectroscopic and calorimetric techniques to investigate the conformation and unfolding thermodynamics of the K +-form of five G-quadruplexes with sequences: d(G 2T 2G 2TGTG 2T 2G 2), G2, d(G 3T 2G 3TGTG 3T 2G 3), G3, their analogs where T is replaced with U, G2-U and G3-U, and r(G 2U 2G 2UGUG 2U 2G 2), rG2. These G-quadruplexes show CD spectra characteristic of the "chair" conformation (G2 and G2-U), or "basket" conformation (rG2); or a mixture of these two conformers (G3 and G3-U). Thermodynamic profiles show that the favorable folding of each G-quadruplex results from the typical compensation of a favorable enthalpy and unfavorable entropy contributions. G-quadruplex stability increase in the following order (in ΔG° 20): rG2 (-1.3 kcal/mol) < G2 < G2-U <G3-U (chair) < G3 (chair) <G3-U (basket) < G3 (basket) (-8.6 kcal/mol), due to favorable enthalpy contribution from the stacking of G-quartets. We used ITC to determine thermodynamic binding profiles for the interaction of the minor groove ligands, netropsin and distamycin, with each G-quadruplex. Both ligands bind with high exothermic enthalpies (∼-10.8 kcal/mol), 1:1 stoichiometries, and weak affinities (∼8 × 10 4 M -1). The similarity of the binding thermodynamic profiles, together with the absence of induced Cotton effects, indicates a surface or outside binding mode. We speculate that the top and bottom surfaces of the G-quadruplex comprise the potential MGBL binding sites, where the ligand lies on the surface forming van der Waals interactions with the guanines of the G-quartets and loop nucleotides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1341-1350
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011



  • CD
  • DSC
  • G-quadruplexes
  • ITC
  • Minor groove binding ligands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

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