Ethidium binding sites on plasmid DNA determined by photoaffinity labeling

J. M. Hardwick, R. S. Von Sprecken, K. L. Yielding, L. W. Yielding

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25 Scopus citations


Photoaffinity labeling of pBR322 with ethidium monoazide (8-azido-3-amino-5-ethyl-6-phenylphenanthridinium chloride) was used to provide evidence for the sequence specificity of ethidium binding to native DNA. DNA-drug interactions were examined at concentrations of eight covalently bound ethidium drugs per molecule of pBR322 (4363 base pairs). Restriction enzyme cutting was blocked by the covalent binding of a drug molecule at (or near) the enzyme recognition sequence. This phenomenon was observed with all restriction enzymes tested and was not limited to specific regions of the pBR322 molecule. Double-digestion experiments indicated that a drug molecule may bind 2 to 3 base pairs outside the recognition sequence and still block restriction enzyme digestion. Intact plasmid was treated with [3H]ethidium monoazide and digested with restriction enzymes. The amount of covalently-linked ethidium analog was quantitated for different restriction fragments and the G-C content of each fragment was determined from the DNA sequence. In approximately half of the fragments the drug appeared to preferentially bind at a G-C base pair. However, no preference for specific sequences such as 5'-C-G-3' was detected, as had been suggested by previous modeling studies with ethidium bromide. The other fragments were located in specific map regions of the plasmid and did not bind drug with a strict dependence on GC content suggesting that binding specificity may depend on more than one structural feature of the DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11090-11097
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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