Circular dichroism spectroscopic studies reveal pH dependent binding of curcumin in the minor groove of natural and synthetic nucleic acids

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For the first time, an interaction between the non-toxic, cancer chemopreventive agent curcnmin and both natural and synthetic DNA duplexes has been demonstrated by using circular dichroism (CD) and absorption spectroscopy techniques. Upon addition of curcumin to calf thymus DNA, poly(dG-dC)-poly(dG- dC) and poly(dA-dT)-poly(dA-dT) solutions, an intense positive induced CD band centered around 460-470 nm was observed depending on the actual pH and Na + ion concentration of the medium; no CD signal was obtained, however, with single stranded poly(dC). Interaction of curcumin with calf thymus DNA was observed already at pH 6.5 in contrast with poly(dG-dC)-poly(dG-dC) which induces no extrinsic Cotton effect above a pH value of 5. The protonated, Hoogsteen base-paired structure of poly(dG-dC)-poly(dG-dC) is necessary for curcumin binding while the alternating AT-rich polymer formed complexes with curcumin only at certain Na+ concentrations. Evaluation of the spectral data and molecular modeling calculations suggested that curcumin. this dietary polyphenolic compound binds in the minor groove of the double helix. The mechanism of the induced CD activity, the effects of the pH and Na+ ions on the ligand binding and conformation of the double helix are discussed in detail. As well as being an essentially new phenolic minor groove binder agent curcumin is also a promising molecular probe to study biologically important, pH and cation induced conformational polymorphisms of nucleic acids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2902-2910
Number of pages9
JournalOrganic and Biomolecular Chemistry
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 21 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

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