Conformational properties of DNA fragments containing GAC trinucleotide repeats associated with skeletal displasias
The human gene for cartilage oligomeric matrix protein contains five tandem repeats of the GAC trinucleotide. Its expansion by one repeat causes multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, while expansion by two repeats or, remarkably, deletion of one repeat causes pseudoa-chondroplasia. Here we used CD spectroscopy, PAGE and UV absorption spectroscopy to compare conformational properties of the DNA strands containing four, five, six and seven repeats of the GAC trinucleotide. The (GAC)(n) strands were found to form four distinct ordered conformations, depending on the solution conditions. The first was a foldback, stable at slightly alkaline pH values and low and medium ionic strengths. Increasing salt concentration induced a transition of the foldback into an antiparallel right-handed homoduplex. Both the conformers contained the Watson-Crick G(.)C pairs while the intervening adenines contributed little to their B-like conformation. Thirdly, the strands associated into a parallel homoduplex stabilized by the hemiprotonated C+.C pairs and by the GpA steps that both favor the parallel DNA strand orientation. The parallel homoduplex was stable even at neutral pH. The fourth conformation was the left-handed Z-DNA, which formed easier with (GAC)(n) than with (GC)(n) of comparable length, indicating that the adenines of (GAC)(n) promoted the left-handed duplex. The paper shows that stability of the above four conformers strongly depends on the GAC repeat number.