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Open Access Research article

Investigation and improvement of DNA cleavage models of polyamide + Cu(II) nuclease + OOH- ligands bound to DNA

Hongwei Yue, Yanyan Zhu, Yan Wang* and Guangju Chen*

Author Affiliations

College of Chemistry, Beijing Normal University, Beijing100875, China

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BMC Structural Biology 2010, 10:35  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-10-35

Published: 17 October 2010



Copper nucleases as a famous class of artificial metallonucleases have attracted considerable interest in relation to their diverse potentials not only as therapeutic agents but also in genomic researches. Copper nucleases present high efficient oxidative cleavage of DNA, in which DNA strand scission occurs generally after hydrogen atom abstracted from a sugar moiety. In order to achieve the selective cleavage of DNA sequences by copper nucleases, the DNA specific recognition agents of the Dervan-type hairpin and cyclic polyamides can be considered as proper carriers of copper nucleases. Investigation of the DNA cleavage selectivity of copper nucleases assisted by the hairpin and cyclic polyamides at the molecular level has not yet been elucidated.


We carried out a series of molecular dynamics simulations for the nuclease [Cu(BPA)]2+ or [Cu(IDB)]2+ bound to the hairpin/cyclic polyamide and associated with DNA to investigate the selective DNA cleavage properties of Cu(II)-based artificial nucleases. The simulated results demonstrate that the DNA cleavage selectivity of the two nucleases assisted by the hairpin polyamide is improved efficiently. The [Cu(BPA)]2+ or [Cu(IDB)]2+ nuclease with a substrate OOH- bound to the hairpin polyamide can be stably located at the minor groove of DNA, and possibly abstracts H atom from the sugar of DNA. However, the DNA cleavage properties of the two nucleases assisted by the cyclic polyamide are significantly poor due to the rigidity of linking region between the cyclic polyamide and nuclease. With introduction of the flexible linker -CH2CH2CH2NH2, the modified cyclic polyamide can assist the two copper nucleases to improve the selective DNA cleavage properties efficiently.


A flexible linker and a proper binding site of the polyamide-type recognition agents play an important role in improving the DNA cleavage selectivity of copper nucleases. Current investigations provide an insight into the DNA cleavage specificities of chemical nucleases assisted by an appropriate nucleic acid recognition agent.