Publication Details

Birrento, M. L., Bryan, T. M., Samosorn, S. & Beck, J. L. (2015). ESI-MS investigation of an equilibrium between a bimolecular quadruplex DNA and a duplex DNA/RNA hybrid. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 26 (7), 1165-1173.


Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) conditions were optimized for simultaneous observation of a bimolecular qDNA and a Watson-Crick base-paired duplex DNA/RNA hybrid. The DNA sequence used was telomeric DNA, and the RNA contained the template for telomerase-mediated telomeric DNA synthesis. Addition of RNA to the quadruplex DNA (qDNA) resulted in formation of the duplex DNA/RNA hybrid. Melting profiles obtained using circular dichroism spectroscopy confirmed that the DNA/RNA hybrid exhibited greater thermal stability than the bimolecular qDNA in solution. Binding of a 13-substituted berberine (1) derivative to the bimolecular qDNA stabilized its structure as evidenced by an increase in its stability in the mass spectrometer, and an increase in its circular dichroism (CD) melting temperature of 10°C. The DNA/RNA hybrid did not bind the ligand extensively and its thermal stability was unchanged in the presence of (1). The qDNA-ligand complex resisted unfolding in the presence of excess RNA, limiting the formation of the DNA/RNA hybrid. Previously, it has been proposed that DNA secondary structures, such as qDNA, may be involved in the telomerase mechanism. DNA/RNA hybrid structures occur at the active site of telomerase. The results presented in the current work show that if telomeric DNA was folded into a qDNA structure, it is possible for a DNA/RNA hybrid to form as is required during template alignment. The discrimination of ligand (1) for binding to the bimolecular qDNA over the DNA/RNA hybrid positions it as a useful compound for probing the role(s), if any, of antiparallel qDNA in the telomerase mechanism.

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