Articles written in Journal of Chemical Sciences
Volume 106 Issue 5 October 1994 pp 989-1002 Nucleic Acids: Synthesis, Structure and Application
The conformation of an unusual slipped loop DNA structure exhibited by the sequence d(GAATTCCCGAATTC)2 is determined using a combination of geometrical and molecular mechanics methods. This sequence is known to form a B-DNA-like duplex with the central non-complementary cytosines extruded into single stranded loop regions. The unusual feature is that the interior guanine does not pair with the cytosine across, instead, it pairs with the cytosine upstream by skipping two cytosines, leading to a slipped loop DNA structure with the loops staggered by two base pairs. The two loops, despite being very small, can fold across minor or major groove symmetrically or asymmetrically disposed, with one of the loop bases partially blocking the major or minor groove. Most interestingly, for certain conformations, the loop bases approach one another at close proximity so as to engage even in base pairing as well as base stacking interactions across the major groove. While such pairing and stacking are common in the tertiary folds of RNA, this is the first time that such an interaction is visualized in a DNA. This observation demonstrates that a W-C pair can readily be accomplished in a typical slipped loop structure postulated for DNA. Such tertiary loop interaction may prevent access to regulatory proteins across the major groove of the duplex DNA, thus providing a structure-function relation for the occurrence of slipped loop structure in DNA.
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