Authors:
G Portella, MW Germann, NV Hud, M Orozco
Journal name: 
J Am Chem Soc
Citation info: 
136(8):3075-3086
Abstract: 
It has been known for decades that alkylammonium ions, such as tetramethyl ammonium (TMA), alter the usual correlation between DNA GC-content and duplex stability. In some cases it is even possible for an AT-rich duplex to be more stable than a GC-rich duplex of the same length. There has been much speculation regarding the origin of this aberration in sequence-dependent DNA duplex stability, but no clear resolution. Using a combination of molecular dynamics simulations and NMR spectroscopy we demonstrate that choline (2-hydroxy-N,N,N-trimethylethanaminium) and TMA are preferentially localized in the minor groove of DNA duplexes at A·T base pairs and these same ions show less pronounced localization in the major groove compared to what has been demonstrated for alkali and alkali earth metal ions. Furthermore, free energy calculations show that single-stranded GC-rich sequences exhibit more favorable solvation by choline than single-stranded AT-rich sequences. The sequence-specific nature of choline and TMA binding provides a rationale for the enhanced stability of AT-rich sequences when alkyl-ammonium ions are used as the counterions of DNA. Our combined theoretical and experimental study provides one of the most detailed pictures to date of cations localized along DNA in the solution state, and provides insights that go beyond understanding alkyl-ammonium ion binding to DNA. In particular, because choline and TMA bind to DNA in a manner that is found to be distinct from that previously reported for Na(+), K(+), Mg(2+), and Ca(2+), our results reveal the important but underappreciated role that most other cations play in sequence-specific duplex stability.
DOI: 
http://doi.org/10.1021/ja410698u
E-pub date: 
26 Feb 2014