Screening of Threading Bis-Intercalators Binding to Duplex DNA by Electrospray Ionization Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Carolyn L. Mazzitelli, Yongjun Chu, Joseph J. Reczek, Brent L. Iverson, Jennifer S. Brodbelt

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30 Scopus citations


The DNA binding of novel threading bis-intercalators V1, trans-D1, and cis-C1, which contain two naphthalene diimide (NDI) intercalation units connected by a scaffold, was evaluated using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) and DNAse footprinting techniques. ESI-MS experiments confirmed that V1, the ligand containing the -Gly3-Lys- peptide scaffold, binds to a DNA duplex containing the 5′-GGTACC-3′ specific binding site identified in previous NMR-based studies. The ligand formed complexes with a ligand/DNA binding stoichiometry of 1:1, even when there was excess ligand in solution. Trans-D1 and cis-C1 are new ligands containing a rigid spiro-tricyclic scaffold in the trans- and cis- orientations, respectively. Preliminary DNAse footprinting experiments identified possible specific binding sites of 5′-CAGTGA-5′ for trans-D1 and 5′-GGTACC-3′ for cis-C1. ESI-MS experiments revealed that both ligands bound to DNA duplexes containing the respective specific binding sequences, with cis-C1 exhibiting the most extensive binding based on a higher fraction of bound DNA value. Cis-C1 formed complexes with a dominant 1:1 binding stoichiometry, whereas trans-D1 was able to form 2:1 complexes at ligand/DNA molar ratios ≥1 which is suggestive of nonspecific binding. Collisional activated dissociation (CAD) experiments indicate that DNA complexes containing V1, trans-D1, and cis-C1 have a unique fragmentation pathway, which was also observed for complexes containing the commercially available bis-intercalator echinomycin, as a result of similar binding interactions, marked by intercalation in addition to hydrogen bonding by the scaffold with the DNA major or minor groove.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-321
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy


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