Combining steady state and temperature jump IR spectroscopy to investigate the allosteric effects of ligand binding to dsDNA

Jessica Dale, C. Peter Howe, Hedvika Toncrova, Robby Fritzsch, Gregory M. Greetham, Ian P. Clark, Michael Towrie, Anthony W. Parker, Thomas C. McLeish, Neil T. Hunt

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Changes in the structural dynamics of double stranded (ds)DNA upon ligand binding have been linked to the mechanism of allostery without conformational change, but direct experimental evidence remains elusive. To address this, a combination of steady state infrared (IR) absorption spectroscopy and ultrafast temperature jump IR absorption measurements has been used to quantify the extent of fast (∼100 ns) fluctuations in (ds)DNA·Hoechst 33258 complexes at a range of temperatures. Exploiting the direct link between vibrational band intensities and base stacking shows that the absolute magnitude of the change in absorbance caused by fast structural fluctuations following the temperature jump is only weakly dependent on the starting temperature of the sample. The observed fast dynamics are some two orders of magnitude faster than strand separation and associated with all points along the 10-base pair duplex d(GCATATATCC). Binding the Hoechst 33258 ligand causes a small but consistent reduction in the extent of these fast fluctuations of base pairs located outside of the ligand binding region. These observations point to a ligand-induced reduction in the flexibility of the dsDNA near the binding site, consistent with an estimated allosteric propagation length of 15 Å, about 5 base pairs, which agrees well with both molecular simulation and coarse-grained statistical mechanics models of allostery leading to cooperative ligand binding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15352-15363
Number of pages12
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number28
Early online date7 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2021


  • structural dynamics of double stranded (ds)DNA
  • ligand binding
  • allostery
  • (ds)DNA-Hoescht 33258
  • structural dynamics
  • biomolecular interactions


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