Intercalation complex of proflavine with DNA: structure and dynamics by solid-state NMR

Science  06 Jul 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4964, pp. 70-72
DOI: 10.1126/science.2367853


The structure of the complex formed between the intercalating agent proflavine and fibrous native DNA was studied by one- and two-dimensional high-resolution solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Carbon-13-labeled proflavine was used to show that the drug is stacked with the aromatic ring plane perpendicular to the fiber axis and that it is essentially immobile. Natural abundance carbon-13 NMR of the DNA itself shows that proflavine binding does not change the puckering of the deoxyribose ring. However, phosphorus-31 NMR spectra show profound changes in the orientation of the phosphodiester grouping on proflavine binding, with some of the phosphodiesters tilting almost parallel to the helix axis, and a second set almost perpendicular. The first group to the phosphodiesters probably spans the intercalation sites, whereas the tilting of the second set likely compensates for the unwinding of the DNA by the intercalator.

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