C3-symmetric opioid scaffolds are pH-responsive DNA condensation agents

McStay N., Molphy Z., Coughlan A., Caolla A., Gathergood N., Kellett A.

Nucleic Acids Research45(2): 527-540, 2017.

Abstract: Herein we report the synthesis of tripodal C3-symmetric opioid scaffolds as high-affinity condensation agents of duplex DNA. Condensation was achieved on both supercoiled and canonical B-DNA structures and identified by agarose electrophoresis, viscosity, turbidity and atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements. Structurally, the requirement of a tris-opioid scaffold for condensation is demonstrated as both di- (C2-symmetric) and mono-substituted (C1-symmetric) mesitylene-linked opioid derivatives poorly coordinate dsDNA. Condensation, observed by toroidal and globule AFM aggregation, arises from surface-binding ionic interactions between protonated, cationic, tertiary amine groups on the opioid skeleton and the phosphate nucleic acid backbone. Indeed, by converting the 6-hydroxyl group of C3-morphine (MC3) to methoxy substituents in C3-heterocodeine (HC3) and C3-oripavine (OC3) molecules, dsDNA compaction is retained thus negating the possibility of phosphate—hydroxyl surface-binding. Tripodal opioid condensation was identified as pH dependent and strongly influenced by ionic strength with further evidence of cationic amine-phosphate backbone coordination arising from thermal melting analysis and circular dichroism spectroscopy, with compaction also witnessed on synthetic dsDNA co-polymers poly[d(A-T)2] and poly[d(G-C)2]. On-chip microfluidic analysis of DNA condensed by C3-agents provided concentration-dependent protection (inhibition) to site-selective excision by type II restriction enzymes: BamHI, HindIII, SalI and EcoRI, but not to the endonuclease DNase I. 

[Open Access]