Journal of molecular biology

Differential scanning calorimetric study of the effect of intercalators and other kinds of DNA-binding drugs on the stepwise melting of plasmid DNA.

PMID 1698988


The effect of intercalating drugs (the anthracycline group of antibiotics, ethidium bromide, actinomycin D) on stepwise melting of DNA was studied by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The DSC DNA melting profile of plasmid pJL3-TB5 DNA (5277 base-pairs in length) consists of seven peaks, and all the intercalators caused shifting of these peaks, particularly those formed at the high temperature ranges, to the higher temperature ranges in a characteristic manner depending upon the binding strength of the drug. The analysis of the anthracycline group of antibiotics, such as aclacinomycin A, daunomycin, adriamycin and pyrarubicin, indicates that the difference in binding is due to the sugar moiety at position O-7 of the chromophore in these antibiotics. Analysis on the basis of the helix-coil transition theory suggests that the anthracycline group of antibiotics interact preferentially with the 5'-CG-3' sequences. The effect of various DNA-binding drugs other than intercalators on stepwise melting of DNA was then studied by DSC. The representative drugs examined were distamycin A, peplomycin, cis-dichlorodiamine-platinum(II) (cis-DDP or cis-Platin) and mitomycin C, which differ in their mode of interaction with DNA; namely, minor groove binding, strand cleavage and intrastrand or interstrand cross-linking. Distamycin A caused shifting of the DSC peaks at the low temperature ranges to a higher temperature range, whereas peplomycin and cis-DDP caused shifting of all the DSC peaks to form a broad peak at a lower temperature range, suggesting that the DSC DNA melting profiles are affected in a characteristic manner depending upon the interaction mode of the drug.

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Actinomycin D, for fluorescence, ≥90% (HPLC), from Streptomyces sp.