The thermal stability and conformational dynamics of DNA hairpin and dumbbell conjugates having short A-tract base pair domains connected by tri- or hexa(ethylene glycol) linkers is reported. The formation of stable base-paired A-tract hairpins having oligo(ethylene glycol) linkers requires a minimum of four or five A-T base pairs. The formation of base-paired dumbbells having oligo(ethylene glycol) linkers by means of chemical ligation of nicked dumbbells requires a minimum of two A-T base pairs on either side of the nick. Molecular modeling indicates that the hexa(ethylene glycol) linker is sufficiently long to pemit formation of strain-free loop regions and B-DNA base pair domains. In contrast, the tri(ethylene glycoll is too short to permit Watson-Crick base pairing between the bases attached to the linker. The shorter linker distorts the duplex, resulting in fluxional behavior in which the base pairs adjacent to the linker and at the open end of the hairpin dissociate on the nanosecond time scale. The loss of interstrand binding energy caused by these fluctuations leads to a difference of ∼5 °C in melting temperature between EG3 and EG6 hairpins. An analysis of the fluxional behavior of the EG3 adjacent base-pair has been used to study the pathways for base flipping and base stacking, including the identification of rotated base (partially flipped) intermediates that have not been described previously for A-T base pairs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry