Interactions between nuclease-resistant, 5'-psoralen-conjugated, chimeric methylphosphonate oligodeoxyribo- or oligo-2'-O-methylribo-triplex- forming oligomers (TFOs) and a purine tract found in the envelope gene of HIV proviral DNA (env-DNA) were investigated by gel mobility shift assays or by photo-cross-linking experiments. These chimeric TFOs contain mixtures of methylphosphonate and phosphodiester internucleotide bonds. A pydmidine chimeric TFO composed of thymidine and 5-methyl-2'-deoxycytidine (C), d-PS- TpCpTpCpTpCpTpTpTpTpTpTpCpTpC (1mp) where PS is trimethylpsoralen and p is methylphosphonate, forms a stable triplex with env-DNA whose dissociation constant is 1.3 μM at 22 °C and pH 7.0. The dissociation constant of chimeric TFO 2mp, d-PS-UpCpTpCpTpCpTpUpTpUpTpUpCpTpC, decreased to 400 nM when four of the thymidines in 1mp were replaced by 5-propynyl-2'- deoxyuridines (U), a result consistent with the increased stacking interactions and hydrophobic nature of 5-propynyl-U. An even greater decrease, 470 -50 nM, was observed for the all-phosphodiester versions of 1mp and 2mp. The differences in behavior of the chimeric versus the all- phosphodiester oligomers may be related to differences in the conformations between the propynyl-U-substituted versus the nonsubstituted TFOs. Thus, in the chimeric oligomer, the stabilizing effect of the propynyl-U's may be offset by the reduced ability of the methylphosphonate backbone to assume an A-type conformation, a conformation that appears to be preferred by propynyl- U-containing TFOs. A chimeric oligo-2'-O-methylribopyrimidine with the same sequence as Imp also formed a stable triplex, K(d) = 1.4 μM, with env-DNA. In contrast to the behavior of the pyrimidine TFOs, antiparallel A/G oligomers and parallel or antiparallel T/G oligomers did not form triplexes with env-DNA, even at oligomer concentrations of 10 μM. This lack of binding may be a consequence of the low G content (33%) of the triplex binding site. Irradiation of triplexes formed between the pyrimidine TFOs and env-DNA resulted in formation of photoadducts with either the upper-strand C or the lower-strand T at the 5'-CpA-3' duplex/triplex junction. No interstrand cross-links were observed. The presence of a 5-propynyl-U at the 5'-end of the oligomer caused a reduction in the amount of upper-strand photoadduct but had no effect on photoadduct formation with the lower strand, suggesting that increased stacking interactions caused by the presence of the 5-propynyl-U change the orientation of psoralen with respect to the upper-strand C. The ability of chimeric methylphosphonate TFOs to bind to DNA, combined with their resistance to degradation by serum 3'-exonucleases, suggests that they may have utility in biological experiments.
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