Towards a better understanding of the unusual conformations of the alternating guanine-adenine repeat strands of DNA
Alternating guanine-adenine strands of DNA are known to self-associate into a parallel-stranded homoduplex at neutral pH, fold into an ordered single-stranded structure at acid pH, and adopt yet another ordered single-stranded conformer in aqueous ethanol. The unusual conformers melt cooperatively and exhibit distinct circular dichroism spectra suggestive of a substantial conformational but their molecular structures are not known yet. Here, we have probed the molecular structures using guanine and adenine analogs lacking the N7 atom, and thus unable of Hoogsteen pairing, or those restrained in the less-frequent syn glycosidic orientation. The studies showed that the syn glycosidic orientation of dA residues promoted the neutral homoduplex, whereas the syn orientation of dG was incompatible with the homoduplex. In addition, Hoogsteen pairing of dA seemed to be a crucial property of the homoduplex whereas dG did not pair in this way. The situation was the same in both single-stranded conformers with the dG residues. On the other hand, the presence of N7 was important with dA but its syn geometry was not favourable. The present data can be used as restraints to model the unusual molecular structures of the alternating guanine-adenine strands of DNA. (c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.