Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. W. David Wilson - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. David W. Boykin

Third Advisor

Dr. Stuart A. Allison

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Donald Hamelberg


It has been shown that heterocyclic diamidines, a class of minor groove binders, are promising antimicrobial agents. These compounds bind none covalently to the minor groove of A/T rich regions of the kinetoplast DNA and kill the parasite. The mechanism of action of these compounds is not well understood, yet many hypotheses have been proposed. One of the methods that improve the specificity is cooperative binding. Since there are many binding sites available in k-DNA thus the cooperativity in adjacent binding sites is desirable. A library of compounds has been scanned and few of those compounds identified that are able to bind to two adjacent A/T binding sites separated by a single G. Many biophysical methods such as isothermal titration calorimetry, surface Plasmon resonance, circular dichroism and thermal melting have been used to explore the thermodynamic profiles and binding mode of these compounds. The pulsed field gradient NMR was used to investigate the structural changes to the DNA sequence upon binding of the minor groove binders and find a correlation between their biological difference and structural changes. The molecular dynamics was applied to look at the interaction of some of the heterocyclic diamidines to the DNA with more details and predict the unknown structures.