Self-complementary oligoribonucleotides: Adenylic acid-uridylic acid block copolymers

Francis H. Martin*, Olke C. Uhlenbeck, Paul Doty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


A series of block oligonucleotides of adenylic and uridylic acid of the form (Ap)m(Up)n-1, where m and n vary individually from 3 to 7, have been prepared. Individual oligonucleotides were shown to form bimolecular helical complexes in solution when m ≥ n but when m < n multichain aggregates containing some triple-stranded helical regions form. Ultraviolet spectra, concentration dependence of Tm, hypochromicity on melting and sedimentation coefficients provided the evidence for these conclusions. Even with non-complementary bases inserted between the adenylic and uridylic acid blocks no single chain, hairpin helices were observed. For m = n the concentration and temperature dependence of association was consistent with a dimer-monomer equilibrium. The concentration dependence of Tm yielded enthalpy changes per base pair, ΔH1, that increased from -6.4 kcal./mole for (Ap)4(Up)3U to -7.6 kcal./mole for (Ap)7(Up)6U. The slope of the thermal dissociation curve at midpoint yielded average values of only -5.5 kcal./ mole. Plots of 1 Tm, versus, 1 N, where N = m + n, were linear. However, the apparent variation of ΔH1 had to be introduced in order to obtain values of β that were comparable to other estimates. The chain-length dependence of ΔH1 presumably arises from end effects and/or from variations in the stacking energy of the adenylic acid sequences at the different temperature ranges over which different chain-length dimers dissociated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-215
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 28 1971

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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