Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. W. David Wilson

Second Advisor

Dr. Markus W. Germann

Third Advisor

Dr. David W. Boykin


Small molecule mediated chemical intervention of biological processes using nucleic acid targets has proven extremely successful and is continually providing exciting new avenues for the development of anti-cancer agents and molecular probes. Among the alternative DNA confrormations, G-quadruplexes has certainly garnered much recognition due to increase in evidences supporting their involvement in diverse biological process. The grooves of the quadruplexes offer an alternate recognition site for ligand interactions with potentially higher selectivity than the traditional terminal stacking sites. DB832, a bifuryl-phenyl diamidine, was recently reported to selectively recognize human telomeric G-quadruplex, as a stacked species, with significant selectivity over duplex sequences. A series of biophysical studies were conducted to test the groove-binding mode of DB832, along with the selectivity for diverse quadruplex forming sequences. To gain better understanding of quadruplex groove-recognition by DB832, a series of structurally similar heterocyclic diamidines were also evaluated. The unique binding mode of DB832 may allow it to serve as a paradigm for the design of new class of highly selective quadruplex groove-binding molecules. Beyond the alternative secondary structures, it is also becoming increasingly apparent that the structure and dynamics of the canonical Watson–Crick DNA double helix play pivotal roles in diverse biological functions. DB1878, a phenyl-furan-indole diamidine, was shown to recognize a mixed GC/AT motif as a stacked antiparallel dimer, and a detailed structural analysis is reported here. Interestingly, the DNA recognition is completely different from the reported molecules in literature, and represents an entirely new motif for DNA minor groove recognition.


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