Spectroscopic, biochemical and computational studies of bioactive DNA minor groove binders targeting 5′-WGWWCW-3′ motif

Hasan Y. Alniss, Bryony M. Kemp, Elizabeth Holmes, Joanna Hoffman, Rafal M. Ploch, Wafaa S. Ramadan, Yousef A. Msallam, Hadeel M. Al-Jubeh, Moustafa M. Madkour, Bekir C. Celikkaya, Fraser J. Scott, Raafat El-Awady, John A. Parkinson

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Spectroscopic, biochemical, and computational modelling studies have been used to assess the binding capability of a set of minor groove binding (MGB) ligands against the self complementary DNA sequences 5’-d(CGCACTAGTGCG)-3’ and 5’-d(CGCAGTACTGCG)-3’. The ligands were carefully designed to target the DNA response element, 5′-WGWWCW-3′, the binding site for several nuclear receptors. Basic 1D 1H NMR spectra of the DNA samples prepared with three MGB ligands show subtle variations suggestive of how each ligand associates with the double helical structure of both DNA sequences. The variations among the investigated ligands were reflected in the line shape and intensity of 1D 1H and 31P-{1H} NMR spectra. Rapid visual inspection of these 1D NMR spectra proves to be beneficial in providing valuable insights on MGB binding molecules. The NMR results were consistent with the findings from both UV DNA denaturation and molecular modelling studies. Both the NMR spectroscopic and computational analyses indicate that the investigated ligands bind to the minor grooves as antiparallel side-by-side dimers in a head-to-tail fashion. Moreover, comparisons with results from biochemical studies offered valuable insights into the mechanism of action, and antitumor activity of MGBs in relation to their structures, essential pre-requisites for future optimization of MGBs as therapeutic agents.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107414
Number of pages55
JournalBioorganic Chemistry
Early online date8 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024


  • NMR spectroscopy
  • nucleic acids
  • molecular modelling
  • minor groove binders (MGBs)
  • DNA denaturation
  • topoisomerase


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