Chemistry Faculty Publications

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Competition binding and UV melting studies of a DNA model system consisting of three, four or five mutually complementary oligonucleotides demonstrate that unpaired bases at the branch point stabilize three- and five-way junction loops but destabilize four-way junctions. The inclusion of unpaired nucleotides permits the assembly of five-way DNA junction complexes (5WJ) having as few as seven basepairs per arm from five mutually complementary oligonucleotides. Previous work showed that 5WJ, having eight basepairs per arm but lacking unpaired bases, could not be assembled I[Wang,Y.L., Mueller,J.E., Kemper,B. and Seeman,N.C. (1991) Biochemistry, 30, 5667-5674]. Competition binding experiments demonstrate that four-way junctions (4WJ) are more stable than three-way junctions (3WJ), when no unpaired bases are included at the branch point, but less stable when unpaired bases are present at the junction. 5WJ complexes are in all cases less stable than 4WJ or 3WJ complexes. UV melting curves confirm the relative stabilities of these junctions. These results provide qualitative guidelines for improving the way in which multi-helix junction loops are handled in secondary structure prediction programs, especially for single-stranded nucleic acids having primary sequences that can form alternative structures comprising different types of junctions.

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Nucleic Acids Research


Oxford University Press


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