Direct observation of strand invasion by peptide nucleic acid (PNA) into double-stranded DNA
Journal article, 1996
Homopyrimidine PNA can recognize a purine target of double-stranded DNA by local displacement of the DNA pyrimidine strand and formation of a PNA-DNA-PNA tripler. In order to elucidate the mechanism of this PNA/DNA recognition reaction we have studied the interaction of PNA-T oligomers with poly(da):poly(dT) as a model system. The PNA binding kinetics can be observed in situ by spectroscopy as a change in the circular dichroism spectrum. The overall reaction rate decreases with increasing ionic strength and proceeds in minutes at 50 mM NaCl. From the temperature dependence of the rate constants an activation energy of about 60 kJ/mol (at 50 mM NaCl) was estimated, consistent with the hypothesis that a rate limiting step could be the DNA opening frequency. As expected from the stability of a DNA double helix toward large-scale openings, also the activation energy of the strand displacement increases somewhat with increasing salt concentration. There is a nonlinear dependence of the overall rate constant of tripler formation on the PNA concentration with an exponent of 2 or somewhat higher. With PNA in excess, the CD signal shows an overshoot suggesting the presence of a third species. The CD spectrum of this intermediate indicates an ordered structure. The presence of intercalators ethidium bromide and 9-aminoacridine is found to increase the overall PNA binding rate, whereas minor groove binder DAPI and major groove binder methyl green both decrease the rate. The mechanism of strand invasion of duplex DNA by PNA is discussed in the light of these results.