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Nucleic Acids Res. Sep 11, 1995; 23(17): 3385–3392.
PMCID: PMC307215

DNA sequence preferences of several AT-selective minor groove binding ligands.


We have examined the interaction of distamycin, netropsin, Hoechst 33258 and berenil, which are AT-selective minor groove-binding ligands, with synthetic DNA fragments containing different arrangements of AT base pairs by DNase I footprinting. For fragments which contain multiple blocks of (A/T)4 quantitative DNase I footprinting reveals that AATT and AAAA are much better binding sites than TTAA and TATA. Hoechst 33258 shows that greatest discrimination between these sites with a 50-fold difference in affinity between AATT and TATA. Alone amongst these ligands, Hoechst 33258 binds to AATT better than AAAA. These differences in binding to the various AT-tracts are interpreted in terms of variations in DNA minor groove width and suggest that TpA steps within an AT-tract decrease the affinity of these ligands. The behaviour of each site also depends on the flanking sequences; adjacent pyrimidine-purine steps cause a decrease in affinity. The precise ranking order for the various binding sites is not the same for each ligand.

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Selected References

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