The bulged insertions of (R)-1-O-(pyren-1-ylmethyl)glycerol (monomer P) in two complementary 8mer DNA strands (intercalating nucleic acids) opposite to each other resulted in the formation of an easily denaturing duplex, which had lower thermal stability (21.0 degrees C) than the wild-type double-stranded DNA (dsDNA, 26.0 degrees C), but both modified oligodeoxynucleotides had increased binding affinity toward complementary single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) (41.5 and 39.0 degrees C). Zipping of pyrene moieties in an easily denaturing duplex gave formation of a strong excimer band at 480 nm upon excitation at 343 nm in the steady-state fluorescence spectra. The excimer band disappeared upon addition of a similar short dsDNA, but remained when adding a 128mer dsDNA containing the same sequence. When P was inserted into 2'-OMe-RNA strands, the duplex with zipping P was found to be more stable (42.0 degrees C) than duplexes with the complementary ssDNAs (31.5 and 19.5 degrees C). The excimer band observed in the ds2'-OMe-RNA with zipping P had marginal changes upon addition of both 8 and 128mer dsDNA. Synthesized oligonucleotides were tested in a transcriptional inhibition assay for targeting of the open complex formed by Escherichia coli RNA polymerase with the lac UV-5 promoter using the above mentioned 128mer dsDNA. Inhibition of transcription was observed for 8mer DNAs possessing pyrene intercalators and designed to target both template and non-template DNA strands within the open complex. The observed inhibition was partly a result of unspecific binding of the modified DNAs to the RNA polymerase. Furthermore, the addition of 8mer DNA with three bulged insertions of P designed to be complementary to the template strand at the +36 to +43 position downstream of the transcription start resulted in a specific halt of transcription producing a truncated RNA transcript. This is to our knowledge the first report of an RNA elongation stop mediated by a small DNA sequence possessing intercalators. The insertions of P opposite to each other in ds2'-OMe-RNA showed inhibition efficiency of 96% compared with 25% for unmodified ds2'-OMe-RNA.
Filichev, V. V., Vester, B., Hansen, L. H., & Pedersen, E. B. (2005). Easily denaturing nucleic acids derived from intercalating nucleic acids: thermal stability studies, dual duplex invasion and inhibition of transcription start. Nucleic Acids Research, 33(22), 7129-37. https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gki1019