Solution structure of a pyrimidine·purine·pyrimidine DNA triplex containing T·AT, C+ ·GC and G·TA triples

Ishwar Radhakrishnan*, Dinshaw J. Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Background Under certain conditions, homopyrimidine oligonucleotides can bind to complementary homopurine sequences in homopurine-homopyrimidine segments of duplex DNA to form triple helical structures. Besides having biological implications in vivo, this property has been exploited in molecular biology applications. This approach is limited by a lack of knowledge about the recognition by the third strand of pyrimidine residues in Watson-Crick base pairs. Results We have therefore determined the solution structure of a pyrimidine·purine·pyrimidine (Y·RY) DNA triple helix containing a guanine residue in the third strand which was postulated to specifically recognize a thymine residue in a Watson-Crick TA base pair. The structure was solved by combining NMR-derived restraints with molecular dynamics simulations conducted in the presence of explicit solvent and counter ions. The guanine of the G·TA triple is tilted out of the plane of its target TA base pair towards the 3′-direction, to avoid a steric clash with the thymine methyl group. This allows the guanine amino protons to participate in hydrogen bonds with separate carbonyls, forming one strong bond within the G·TA triple and a weak bond to an adjacent T·AT triple. Dramatic variations in helical twist around the guanine residue lead to a novel stacking interaction. At the global level, the Y·RY DNA triplex shares several structural features with the recently solved solution structure of the R·RY DNA triplex. Conclusions The formation of a G·TA triple within an otherwise pyrimidine·purine·pyrimidine DNA triplex causes conformational realignments in and around the G·TA triple. These highlight new aspects of molecular recognition that could be useful in triplex-based approaches to inhibition of gene expression and site-specific cleavage of genomic DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-32
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994


  • G·TA triple
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • molecular dynamics
  • pyrimidine·purine·pyrimidine DNA triplex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Solution structure of a pyrimidine·purine·pyrimidine DNA triplex containing T·AT, C+ ·GC and G·TA triples'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this