Crystal structure of a DNA containing the planar, phenoxazine-derived bi-functional spectroscopic probe C.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nucleic acids research, Volume 39, Issue 10, p.4419-26 (2011)


2011, Basic Sciences Division, Crystallography, X-Ray, Cyclic N-Oxides, DNA, Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy, Models, Molecular, Oxazines, Spectrometry, Fluorescence, Spin Labels


Previously, we developed the deoxycytosine analog Ç (C-spin) as a bi-functional spectroscopic probe for the study of nucleic acid structure and dynamics using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and fluorescence spectroscopy. To understand the effect of Ç on nucleic acid structure, we undertook a detailed crystallographic analysis. A 1.7 Å resolution crystal structure of Ç within a decamer duplex A-form DNA confirmed that Ç forms a non-perturbing base pair with deoxyguanosine, as designed. In the context of double-stranded DNA Ç adopted a planar conformation. In contrast, a crystal structure of the free spin-labeled base ç displayed a ∼ 20° bend at the oxazine linkage. Density function theory calculations revealed that the bent and planar conformations are close in energy and exhibit the same frequency for bending. These results indicate a small degree of flexibility around the oxazine linkage, which may be a consequence of the antiaromaticity of a 16-π electron ring system. Within DNA, the amplitude of the bending motion is restricted, presumably due to base-stacking interactions. This structural analysis shows that the Ç forms a planar, structurally non-perturbing base pair with G indicating it can be used with high confidence in EPR- or fluorescence-based structural and dynamics studies.