Yi Miao

Date of Award


Degree Type


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


SHAPE-DEPENDENT MOLECULAR RECOGNITION OF SPECIFIC SEQUENCES OF DNA BY HETEROCYCLIC CATIONS by YI MIAO Under the Direction of Dr. W. David Wilson ABSTRACT DB921 and DB911 are biphenyl-benzimidazole-diamidine isomers with a central para- and meta-substituted phenyl group, respectively. Unexpectedly, linear DB921 has much stronger binding affinity with DNA than its curved isomer, DB911. This is quite surprising and intriguing since DB911 has the classical curved shape generally required for strong minor groove binding while DB921 clearly does not match the groove shape. Several biophysical techniques including thermal melting (Tm), circular dichroism (CD), biosensor-surface plasmon resonance (SPR), and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) have been utilized to investigate the interactions between these compounds and DNA. The structure of the DB921-DNA complex reveals that DB921 binds to DNA with a reduced twist of the biphenyl for better fit of DB921 into the minor groove. A bound water molecule complements the curvature of DB921 and contributes for tight binding by forming H-bonds with both DNA and DB921. Structure-affinity relationship studies of a series of DB921 analogs show that the benzimidazole group is one of the key groups of DB921 for its strong binding to the minor groove. Thermodynamic studies show that the stronger binding of DB921 is due to a more favorable binding enthalpy compared to DB911 even though the complex formation with DNA for these compounds are all predominantly entropically driven. DB921 also has more negative heat capacity change than DB911. The initial studies of inhibition of the interaction between an AT hook peptide of HMGA proteins and its target DNA by a set of diamidine AT-minor groove binders using biosensor-SPR technique show that the inhibitory ranking order is consistent with that of binding affinity and linear-shaped DB921 still has excellent inhibitory effects. These heterocyclic cations rapidly inhibit the binding of DBD2 peptide to the DNA and may only block the specific AT binding of the peptide without hindering the non-specific binding interaction. The results of this project have shown that DB921 represents a new novel effective minor groove binder that does not fit the traditional model and is a potential inhibitor for DNA/protein complexes. INDEX WORDS: Molecular recognition, DNA binding, Minor groove binding, Linear shape, Compound curvature, Binding affinity, Binding kinetics, Thermodynamics, Surface plasmon resonance, Isothermal titration calorimetry, Inhibition


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