DNA is an underrepresented target for small molecule therapeutic agents. One reason for the dearth of DNA targeted drugs is that the fundamental molecular mechanisms that govern sequence- and structural-selective ligands to DNA remain poorly understood. In order to develop design principles for targeting specific DNA sites, a thorough understanding of the binding mechanisms of existing compounds that bind to DNA with unique types of selectivity is needed. The long-range goal of this project is to understand the mechanism of DNA intercalation reactions, with particular emphasis on the energetic basis of sequence- and structural-selective binding. Renewal is sought for a successful and highly productive basic science program that has produced several promising avenues for DNA-targeted drug development. Four-stranded G-quadruplex DNA structures have emerged as important functional elements within the genome, and represent important new targets for therapeutic drugs. G-quadruplexes are functional elements that are important in telomere biology, and are emerging as important control elements in the expression of many genes, particularly oncogenes. Research in the next funding period will focus on biophysical studies of G-quadruplex structure, folding and stability, and on their selective interactions specific quadruplex structures with drug-like molecules.
Specific aims i nclude: 1. Determination of the structure of the 200 nt single-stranded DNA overhang that is a conserved feature of human telomeres. 2. Determination of the thermodynamic stability of higher-order quadruplex structures and the kinetics of the folding. 3. Determination of the thermodynamics and kinetics of drug binding to specific quadruplex structures, including the higher-order structures in telomeric DNA and the G-quadruplex """"""""silencer"""""""" element found in the c-myc promoter. The results of these proposed studies will deepen our understanding of the structure and stability of functionally important G-quadruplexes, and will provide fundamental mechanistic information of use in the rational design of new small molecules to selectively target functionally important quadruplex structures.

Public Health Relevance

G-quadruplexes are four-stranded DNA structures that are thought to be functionally import elements in the human genome. Quadruplexes have emerged as potential drug targets. The proposed project will use computational and biophysical methods to study the structure, stability, and drug binding of functionally significant quadruplex structures. The results will be of fundamental use for guiding the design of new drugs targeted toward quadruplexes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Macromolecular Structure and Function B Study Section (MSFB)
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Misra, Raj N
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University of Louisville
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Del Villar-Guerra, Rafael; Trent, John O; Chaires, Jonathan B (2018) G-Quadruplex Secondary Structure Obtained from Circular Dichroism Spectroscopy. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 57:7171-7175
Del Villar-Guerra, Rafael; Gray, Robert D; Chaires, Jonathan B (2017) Characterization of Quadruplex DNA Structure by Circular Dichroism. Curr Protoc Nucleic Acid Chem 68:17.8.1-17.8.16
Bon?ina, MatjaĆŸ; Vesnaver, Gorazd; Chaires, Jonathan Brad et al. (2016) Unraveling the Thermodynamics of the Folding and Interconversion of Human Telomere G-Quadruplexes. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 55:10340-4
Chaires, Jonathan B; Dean, William L; Le, Huy T et al. (2015) Hydrodynamic Models of G-Quadruplex Structures. Methods Enzymol 562:287-304
Chaires, Jonathan B (2015) A small molecule--DNA binding landscape. Biopolymers 103:473-9
Zhao, Huaying; Ghirlando, Rodolfo; Alfonso, Carlos et al. (2015) A multilaboratory comparison of calibration accuracy and the performance of external references in analytical ultracentrifugation. PLoS One 10:e0126420
Le, Huy T; Dean, William L; Buscaglia, Robert et al. (2014) An investigation of G-quadruplex structural polymorphism in the human telomere using a combined approach of hydrodynamic bead modeling and molecular dynamics simulation. J Phys Chem B 118:5390-405
Gray, Robert D; Trent, John O; Chaires, Jonathan B (2014) Folding and unfolding pathways of the human telomeric G-quadruplex. J Mol Biol 426:1629-50
Chaires, Jonathan B; Trent, John O; Gray, Robert D et al. (2014) An improved model for the hTERT promoter quadruplex. PLoS One 9:e115580
Buscaglia, Robert; Miller, M Clarke; Dean, William L et al. (2013) Polyethylene glycol binding alters human telomere G-quadruplex structure by conformational selection. Nucleic Acids Res 41:7934-46

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