Metal ions cause the isomerization of certain intramolecular triplexes

Seongman Kang, Franz Wohlrab, Robert D. Wells

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32 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of cations on the capacity of five oligopurine·oligopyrimidine mirror repeat sequences to adopt intramolecular triplexes (the usual H-y3 isomer and/or the rare H-y5 isomer) in recombinant plasmids was investigated. Unexpectedly, the presence of certain metal ions (magnesium, zinc, manganese, and calcium) stabilized the (GAA)4TTCGC(GAA)4 insert in the rare H-y5 when cloned into either of two different sequence backgrounds. Alternatively, either shortening or lengthening the sequence at the central interruption, which becomes the loop of the triplex, led to the formation of the canonical H-y3 under all conditions tested. Similarly, other oligopurine·oligopyrimidine mirror repeat sequences (i.e. (GAA)8 or (GGA)8) formed only the H-y3 under all experimental conditions. All triplexes were stabilized by negative supercoiling at pH 5.0; chemical probe and primer extension analyses served as critical structural tools. Hence, the nature of the central interruption sequence (the loop) of the mirror repeat is important for the stabilization of the H-y5. This region may be important for metal ion binding in the initial stages of triplex formation and thus may play a critical role in determining which isomer is formed. The possible biological role of a DNA sequence adopting three different conformations is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1259-1264
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1992 Jan 15
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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