Date of Award

Summer 7-12-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. W. David Wilson

Second Advisor

Dr. David Boykin

Third Advisor

Dr. Markus Germann


DNA minor groove binding compounds have had limited therapeutic uses, in part due to problems with sequence specificity. A two-site model has been developed to enhance specificity, in which compounds bind to two short AT sites separated by one or two GC base pairs. Using thermal melting, heterocyclic dications with this capability were tested with various oligonucleotides for binding affinity and specificity. Compounds of interest were further probed using circular dichroism, mass spectrometry, biosensor-SPR, and molecular modeling. Several compounds were found to “jump” a GC base pair, binding to AT sites in the minor groove of DNA with a two-site recognition mode. One compound was also found to recognize a single intervening GC base pair. Compounds with terminal, non-polar amidine extensions were found to have increased DNA binding compared to analogs with terminal amidines. This unique, two-site DNA recognition mode offers novel design principles to recognize entirely new DNA motifs.