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Bioorg Med Chem. 1997 Jun;5(6):1157-72.

Design and analysis of molecular motifs for specific recognition of RNA.

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Department of Chemistry, Georgia State University, Atlanta 30303, USA.


Selective targeting of RNA has become a recent priority in drug design strategies due to the emergence of retroviruses, the need for new antibiotics to counter drug resistance, and our increased awareness of the essential role RNA and RNA structures play in the progression of disease. Most organic compounds known to specifically target RNA are complex, naturally occurring antibiotics that are difficult to synthesize or derivatize and modification of these compounds to optimize interactions with structurally unique RNAs is difficult. The de novo design of synthetically accessible analogues is one possible alternative; however, little is known about the RNA recognition principles on which to design new compounds and limited information on RNA structure in general is available. To contribute to the growing body of knowledge on RNA recognition principles, we have prepared two series of polycationic RNA-binding agents, one with a linear scaffold, the other with a macrocyclic scaffold. We evaluated these compounds for their ability to bind to DNA and RNA, as well as to a specific RNA, the regulatory sequence, RRE, derived from HIV-1, by using thermal melting, circular dichroism, and electrophoresis gel shift methods. Out results suggest that cationic charge centers of high pKa that are displayed along a scaffold of limited flexibility bind preferentially to RNA, most likely within the major groove. Related derivatives that bind more strongly to DNA more closely mimic classical DNA minor-groove binding agents. Several of the macrocyclic polycations expand on a new binding motif where purine bases in duplex RNA are complexed within the macrocyclic cavity, enhancing base-pair opening processes and ultimately destabilizing the RNA duplex. The results in this report should prove a helpful addition to the growing information on molecular motifs that specifically bind to RNA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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