Hybridization of PNA to Structured DNA Targets: Quadruplex Invasion and the Overhang Effect


Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probes have been synthesized and targeted to quadruplex DNA. UV-vis and CD spectroscopy reveal that the quadruplex structure of the thrombin binding aptamer (TBA) is disrupted at 37 °C by a short PNA probe. The corresponding DNA probe fails to bind to the stable secondary structure at this temperature. Thermal denaturation experiments indicate surprisingly high thermal and thermodynamic stabilities for the PNA-TBA hybrid. Our results point to the nonbonded nucleobase overhangs on the DNA as being responsible for this stability. This "overhang effect" is found for two different PNA-DNA sequences and a variety of different overhang lengths and sequences. The stabilization offered by the overhangs assists the PNA in overcoming the stable secondary structure of the DNA target, an effect which may be significant in the targeting of biological nucleic acids, which will always be much longer than the PNA probe. The ability of PNA to invade a structured DNA target expands its potential utility as an antigene agent or hybridization probe.


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Document Type





thermodynamics, genetics, probes, stability, hybridization

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of the American Chemical Society