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Sequence-specific recognition of DNA by small organic molecules offers a potentially effective approach for the external regulation of gene expression and is an important goal in cell biochemistry. Rational design of compounds from established modules can potentially yield compounds that bind strongly and selectively with specific DNA sequences. An initial approach is to start with common A·T bp recognition molecules and build in G·C recognition units. Here we report on the DNA interaction of a synthetic compound that specifically binds to a G·C bp in the minor groove of DNA by using an azabenzimidazole moiety. The detailed interactions were evaluated with biosensor-surface plasmon resonance (SPR), isothermal calorimetric (ITC), and mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) methods. The compound, DB2277, binds with single G·C bp containing sequences with subnanomolar potency and displays slow dissociation kinetics and high selectivity. A detailed thermodynamic and kinetic study at different experimental salt concentrations and temperatures shows that the binding free energy is salt concentration dependent but essentially temperature independent under our experimental conditions, and binding enthalpy is temperature dependent but salt concentration independent. The results show that in the proper compound structural context novel heterocyclic cations can be designed to strongly recognize complex DNA sequences.


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Paul, A., Chai, Y., Boykin, D. W. & Wilson, W. D. Understanding Mixed Sequence DNA Recognition by Novel Designed Compounds: The Kinetic and Thermodynamic Behavior of Azabenzimidazole Diamidines. Biochemistry 54, 577–587 (2015). DOI: 10.1021/bi500989r

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