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Keywords:

  • DNA modified with antitumor compounds;
  • thermodynamics of DNA complexes;
  • DNA helix–coil transition

Abstract

Although many anticancer drugs exert their biological activity by forming DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs), the thermodynamics of biologically relevant long crosslinked DNAs has not been intensively studied in contrast to short duplexes. Here, we carry out computer modeling of the shift of melting temperature of long DNAs caused by ICLs taking into account crosslinking effect in itself and concomitant local alterations in the free energy (δG) of the helix–coil transition at sites of ICLs. Depending on δG, DNA interstrand crosslinks at per nucleotide concentration r = 0.05 can change the melting temperature by value from −17 to +47°C, and the influence weakly depends on DNA sequence and GC content. A change in melting temperature caused by introduction of interstrand crosslinking in modified DNA at sites of modifications also depends on δG and varies from 0 to +12°C. Comparison with experiment for the three platinum crosslinking compounds demonstrates utility of the theoretical method for understanding how crosslinking compounds can influence the melting behavior. On the basis of the method, interdependence of local distortions and crosslinking in itself was studied for thermal effect of ICLs. A method for evaluating the nature of the structural alteration that produces a change in thermal stability for short crosslinked DNA is also proposed. The methods can be used for comparative thermodynamic characterization of various DNA crosslinking agents. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 97: 807–817, 2012.