Recognition of z-rna and z-dna determinants by polyamines in solution: Experimental and theoretical studies

Hirak S. Basu, Burt G. Feuerstein, David A. Zarling, Richard H. Shafer, Laurence J. Marton

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21 Scopus citations


Protonated polyamines are among the most efficient cations that induce the left-handed Z-form in certain polynucleotides. It is not known, however, whether these cations bind to specific sites on Z-sequences in solution. We have studied potential polyamine binding sites by measuring the effects of polyamines on the binding of purified immunoglobulins (IgGs) to different regions of the Z-helix and by molecular mechanics modeling. The specific binding of anti-Z-DNA and anti-Z-RNA IgGs to Z-helices was studied as a function of spermidine or spermine concentration. The effect of polyamines on the antibody-nucleic acid interaction was different for IgGs with different specificities for various determinants on the Z-helix. Polyamines inhibit the binding of certain anti-Z IgGs directed against specific sites probably at or near the interface between the major convex surface and the phosphate backbone, most likely by competing with the antibody binding site(s). In contrast, polyamines have no effect on other anti-Z IgGs directed against sites determined by the phosphate backbone. Furthermore, these cations can enhance the binding of anti-Z IgG directed against bulky groups at the C-5 position on the major convex surface of the helix; the enhancement maybe related to charge neutralization. Under these conditions, no direct binding of antibodies with polyamines was observed. These data suggest the existence of a specific binding site(s) for polyamines on both Z-DNA and Z-RNA in solution. These binding sites have some similarity to those observed in oligonucleotide crystals by Quigley (in “Molecular Structure and Biological Activity,” J.F. Griffin and W.L. Duax, eds., Elsevier, Amsterdam (1982), pp. 317331).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-309
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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