In metal base-pairing, the Watson-Crick hydrogen bonds are replaced by the interaction between a metal ion with nucleosides acting as ligands. The possible geometries of the metal that would allow for duplex formation with two bidentate nucleosides around a central metal atom are: tetrahedral, dodecahedral, and square planar. Metal-complexing with DNA can occur by the formation of non-canonical base pairs from natural nucleobases with participation by metal ions and also by the exchanging the hydrogen atoms that are part of the Watson-Crick base pairing by metal ions. Introduction of metal ions into a DNA duplex has shown to have potential magnetic, conducting properties, as well as increased stability.
Metal complexing has been shown to occur between natural nucleobases. A well-documented example is the formation of T-Hg-T, which involves two deprotonated thymine nucleobases that are brought together by Hg2+ and forms a connected metal-base pair. This motif does not accommodate stacked Hg2+ in a duplex due to an intrastrand hairpin formation process that is favored over duplex formation. Two thymines across from each other in a duplex do not form a Watson-Crick base pair in a duplex; this is an example where a Watson-Crick basepair mismatch is stabilized by the formation of the metal-base pair. Another example of a metal complexing to natural nucleobases is the formation of A-Zn-T and G-Zn-C at high pH; Co+2 and Ni+2 also form these complexes. These are Watson-Crick base pairs where the divalent cation in coordinated to the nucleobases. The exact binding is debated.
A large variety of artificial nucleobases have been developed for use as metal base pairs. These modified nucleobases exhibit tunable electronic properties, sizes, and binding affinities that can be optimized for a specific metal. For, example a nucleoside modified with a pyridine-2,6-dicarboxylate has shown to bind tightly to Cu2+, whereas other divalent ions are only loosely bound. The tridentate character contributes to this selectivity. The fourth coordination site on the copper is saturated by an oppositely arranged pyridine nucleobase. The asymmetric metal base pairing system is orthogonal to the Watson-Crick base pairs. Another example of an artificial nucleobase is that with hydroxypyridone nucleobases, which are able to bind Cu2+ inside the DNA duplex. Five consecutive copper-hydroxypyridone base pairs were incorporated into a double strand, which were flanked by only one natural nucleobase on both ends. EPR data showed that the distance between copper centers was estimated to be 3.7 ± 0.1 Å, while a natural B-type DNA duplex is only slightly larger (3.4 Å). The appeal for stacking metal ions inside a DNA duplex is the hope to obtain nanoscopic self-assembling metal wires, though this has not been realized yet.
Famous quotes containing the word metal:
“And, indeed, is there not something holy about a great kitchen?... The scoured gleam of row upon row of metal vessels dangling from hooks or reposing on their shelves till needed with the air of so many chalices waiting for the celebration of the sacrament of food. And the range like an altar, yes, before which my mother bowed in perpetual homage, a fringe of sweat upon her upper lip and the fire glowing in her cheeks.”
—Angela Carter (19401992)