The incorporation of 7-deazaguanine modifications into DNA is frequently used to probe protein recognition of H-bonding information in the major groove of DNA. While it is generally assumed that 7-deazaguanine forms a normal Watson-Crick base pair with cytosine, detailed thermodynamic and structural analyses of this modification have not been reported. The replacement of the 7-N atom on guanine with a C-H, alters the electronic properties of the heterocycle and eliminates a major groove cation-binding site that could affect the organization of salts and water in the major groove. We report herein the characterization of synthetic DNA oligomers containing 7-deazaguanine using a variety of complementary approaches: UV thermal melting, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), circular dichroism (CD), chemical probing and NMR. The results indicate that the incorporation of a 7-deazaguanine modification has a significant effect on the dynamic structure of the DNA at the flanking residue. This appears to be mediated by changes in hydration and cation organization.
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