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Anal Chem. 2013 Nov 19;85(22):11000-6. doi: 10.1021/ac402542g. Epub 2013 Oct 30.

Base-pairing energies of proton-bound homodimers determined by guided ion beam tandem mass spectrometry: application to cytosine and 5-substituted cytosines.

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Department of Chemistry, Wayne State University , Detroit, Michigan 48202, United States.


Base-pairing interactions in proton-bound dimers of cytosine (C(+)·C) are the major forces responsible for stabilization of DNA i-motif conformations. Permethylation of cytosine in extended (CCG)·(CGG)n trinucleotide repeats has been shown to cause fragile-X syndrome, the most widespread inherited cause of mental retardation in humans. Oligonucleotides containing 5-bromo- or 5-fluorocytosine can bind to proteins that selectively bind methylated DNA, suggesting that halogenated cytosine damage products can potentially mimic methylation signals. However, the influence of methylation or halogenation on the base-pairing energies (BPEs) of proton-bound dimers of cytosine and their impact on the stability of DNA i-motif conformations is presently unknown. To address this, proton-bound homodimers of cytosine and 5-methyl-, 5-fluoro-, 5-bromo-, and 5-iodocytosine are investigated in detail both experimentally and theoretically. The BPEs of proton-bound homodimers of cytosine and the modified cytosines are measured by threshold collision-induced dissociation (TCID) techniques. 5-Methylation of cytosine is found to increase the BPE and would therefore tend to stabilize DNA i-motif conformations. In contrast, 5-halogenation lowers the BPE. However, the BPEs of the proton-bound 5-halocytosine homodimers examined here still significantly exceed that of Watson-Crick G·C base pairs, such that DNA i-motif conformations should be preserved in the presence of these modifications. Excellent agreement between TCID measured and B3LYP calculated BPEs is found, suggesting that B3LYP calculations can be used to provide reliable energetic predictions for related systems.

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