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Minor groove binding compounds have been shown to induce changes in global DNA conformation, allosterically inhibiting DNA-protein interactions necessary for transcriptional processes. Many minor groove binders are specific for AT-base pairs but have little preference over alternating AT or A-tract sequences. Few compounds, other than polyamides, show selectivity for mixed sequences with AT and GC base pairs. Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) can provide insight on the stoichiometry and relative affinities in minor groove recognition of different DNA sequences with a library of minor groove binders. A goal in our current research is to develop new compounds that recognize mixed sequences of DNA. In an effort to optimize screening for compounds that target mixed AT and GC base pair sequences of DNA, ESI-MS was used to study the competitive binding of compounds with a mixed set of DNA sequences. The method identified preferred binding sites, relative affinities, and concentration-dependent binding stoichiometry for the minor groove binding compounds netropsin and DB75 with AT-rich sequences, and DB293 with ATGA and AT-sites.


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Laughlin, Sarah et al. “A Novel Approach Using Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry to Study Competitive Binding of Small Molecules with Mixed DNA Sequences.” Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 406.25 (2014): 6441–6445. PMC. doi:

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