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Biochemistry. 2000 Jul 25;39(29):8439-47.

Energetics of DNA intercalation reactions.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson 39216-4505, USA.


Isothermal titration calorimetry has been used to determine the binding enthalpy and heat capacity change (DeltaC(p)()) for a series of DNA intercalators, including ethidium, propidium, daunorubicin, and adriamycin. Temperature-dependent binding enthalpies were measured directly for the ligands, from which DeltaC(p)() values of -140 to -160 cal mol(-)(1) K(-)(1) were calculated. Published van't Hoff plots were reanalyzed to obtain DeltaC(p)() values of -337 to -423 cal mol(-)(1) K(-)(1) for the binding of actinomycin D to several DNA oligonucleotide duplexes with defined sequences. Heat capacity changes for DNA intercalation were found to correlate with the alterations in solvent-accessible surface area calculated from available high-resolution structural data. Multiple linear regression was used to derive the relationship DeltaC(p)() = 0. 382(+/-0.026)DeltaA(np) - 0.121(+/-0.077)DeltaA(p) cal mol(-)(1) K(-)(1), where DeltaA(np) and DeltaA(p) are the binding-induced changes in nonpolar and polar solvent-accessible surface areas (in square angstroms), respectively. The DeltaC(p)() terms were used to estimate the hydrophobic contribution to intercalative binding free energies, yielding values that ranged from -11.2 (ethidium) to -30 kcal mol(-)(1) (actinomycin D). An attempt was made to parse the observed binding free energies of ethidium and propidium into five underlying contributions. Such analysis showed that the DNA binding behavior of these simple intercalators is driven almost equally by hydrophobic effects and van der Waals contacts within the intercalation site.

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