Nucleic acid oligonucleotides (ODNs), as drugs, present an exquisite selectivity and affinity that can be used in antigene and antisense strategies for the control of gene expression. In this work we try to answer the following question: How does the molecularity of a DNA triplex affect its overall stability and melting behavior? To this end, we used a combination of temperature-dependent UV spectroscopy and calorimetric (differential scanning calorimetry) techniques to investigate the melting behavior of DNA triplexes with a similar helical stem, TC+TC+TC+T/AGAGAGA/TCTCTCT, but formed with different strand molecularity. We determined standard thermodynamic profiles and the differential binding of protons and counterions accompanying their unfolding. The formation of a triplex is accompanied by a favorable free energy term, resulting from the typical compensation of favorable enthalpy-unfavorable entropy contributions, i.e., the folding of a particular triplex is enthalpy driven. The magnitude of the favorable enthalpy contributions corresponds to the number and strength of the base-triplet stacks formed, which are helped by stacking contributions due to the incorporation of dangling ends or loops. Triplex stability is in the following order: monomolecular > bimolecular > trimolecular; this is explained in terms of additional stacking contributions due to the inclusion of loops. As expected, acidic pH stabilized all triplexes by allowing protonation of the cytosines in the third strand; however, the percentage of protonation increases as the molecularity decreases. The results help to choose adequate solution conditions for the study of triplexes containing different ratios of CGC+ and TAT base triplets and to aid in the design of oligonucleotide sequences as targeting reagents that could effectively react with mRNA sequences involved in human diseases, thereby increasing the feasibility of using the antisense strategy for therapeutic purposes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry