Mark C. Williams
Paul Champion, Armen Stepanyants
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
College of Arts and Sciences. Department of Physics.
Binding modes, Drug-DNA Interactions, Force spectroscopy, Optical Tweezers, Single molecule, Threading Intercalation
Studies of small molecule-DNA interactions are essential for developing new drugs for challenging diseases like cancer and HIV. The main idea behind developing these molecules is to target and inhibit the reproduction of the tumor cells and infected cells. We mechanically manipulate single DNA molecule using optical tweezers to investigate two molecules that have complex and multiple binding modes. Mononuclear ruthenium complexes have been extensively studied as a test for rational drug design. Potential drug candidates should have high affinity to DNA and slow dissociation kinetics. To achieve this, motifs of the ruthenium complexes are altered. Our collaborators designed a dumb-bell shaped binuclear ruthenium complex that can only intercalate DNA by threading through its bases. Studying the binding properties of this complex in bulk studies took hours. By mechanically manipulating a single DNA molecule held with optical tweezers, we lower the barrier to thread and make it fast compared to the bulk experiments. Stretching single DNA molecules with different concentration of drug molecules and holding it at a constant force allows the binding to reach equilibrium. By this we can obtain the equilibrium fractional ligand binding and length of DNA at saturated binding. Fitting these results yields quantitative measurements of the binding thermodynamics and kinetics of this complex process. The second complex discussed in this study is Actinomycin D (ActD), a well studied anti-cancer agent that is used as a prototype for developing new generations of drugs. However, the biophysical basis of its activity is still unclear. Because ActD is known to intercalate double stranded DNA (dsDNA), it was assumed to block replication by stabilizing dsDNA in front of the replication fork. However, recent studies have shown that ActD binds with even higher affinity to imperfect duplexes and some sequences of single stranded DNA (ssDNA). We directly measure the on and off rates by stretching the DNA molecule to a certain force and holding it at constant force while adding the drug and then while washing off the drug. Our finding resolves the long lasting controversy of ActD binding modes, clearly showing that both the dsDNA binding and ssDNA binding converge to the same single mode. The result supports the hypothesis that the primary characteristic of ActD that contributes to its biological activity is its ability to inhibit cellular replication by binding to transcription bubbles and causing cell death.
Paramanathan, Thayaparan, "Drug-DNA interactions at single molecule level: a view with optical tweezers" (2010). Physics Dissertations. Paper 30. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20002805
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