Structure and electronic spectra of DNA mini-hairpins with G n:Cn stems

Jennifer Tuma, Stefano Tonzani, George C. Schatz, Andrew H. Karaba, Frederick D. Lewis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The solution structure of a synthetic DNA mini-hairpin possessing a stilbenediether linker and three G:C base pairs has been obtained using 1H NMR spectral data and constrained torsion angle molecular dynamics. Notable features of this structure include a compact hairpin loop having a short stilbene-guanine plane-to-plane distance and approximate B-DNA geometry for the three base pairs. Comparison of the electronic spectra of mini-hairpins having one-to-four G:C base pairs and stilbenediether or hexamethyleneglycol linkers reveals the presence of features in the UV and CD spectra of the stilbene-linked hairpins that are not observed for the ethyleneglycol-linked hairpins. Investigation of the electronic structure of a stilbene-linked hairpin having a single G:C base pair by means of time-dependent density functional theory shows that the highest occupied molecular orbital, but not the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital, is delocalized over the stilbene and adjacent guanine. The calculated UV and CD spectra are highly dependent upon hairpin conformation, but reproduce the major features of the experimental spectra. These results illustrate the utility of an integrated experimental and theoretical approach to understanding the complex electronic spectra of π-stacked chromophores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13101-13106
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 15 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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