Loopstructures in synthetic oligonucleotides. Hairpin stability and structure studied as a function of loop elongation
The formation of hairpin structures in the homologous, (partly) self-complementary DNA fragments d(ATCCTATnTAGGAT), n = 0–7, was studied by means of nuclear magnetic resonance, T-jump and ultra-violet techniques. It is shown that all compounds in the series may adopt hairpin-like conformations, albeit for n < 3 this only occurs to a significant amount at relatively low concentrations (∼ 10μM). For the present series of oligonucleotides, hairpin formation is accompanied by an apparent loop enthalpy significantly different from zero. The stability of the DNA hairpins turns out to be at its maximum for loop lengths of four or five residues, whereas earlier experiments (Tinocoet al., 1973) indicated that loop lengths of six to seven residues are most favourable for RNA hairpins. This is explained by considering the difference in geometry of A-RNA and B-DNA helices.
KeywordsDNA nuclear magnetic resonance T-jump oligonucleotides conformation
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