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Concept: Ethidium bromide


A new approach is presented for analysis of microplastics in environmental samples, based on selective fluorescent staining using Nile Red (NR), followed by density-based extraction and filtration. The dye adsorbs onto plastic surfaces and renders them fluorescent when irradiated with blue light. Fluorescence emission is detected using simple photography through an orange filter. Image-analysis allows fluorescent particles to be identified and counted. Magnified images can be recorded and tiled to cover the whole filter area, allowing particles down to a few micrometres to be detected. The solvatochromic nature of Nile Red also offers the possibility of plastic categorisation based on surface polarity characteristics of identified particles. This article details the development of this staining method and its initial cross-validation by comparison with infrared (IR) microscopy. Microplastics of different sizes could be detected and counted in marine sediment samples. The fluorescence staining identified the same particles as those found by scanning a filter area with IR-microscopy.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Spectroscopy, Ultraviolet, Molecular biology, Light, Dyes, Ethidium bromide, Infrared


A series of ethylenediamine platinum(II) complexes connected through semi-rigid chains of 1,2-bis(4-pyridyl)ethane to DNA intercalating subunits (naphthalene, anthracene or phenazine) has been synthesized, and their interactions with calf thymus (CT) DNA have been evaluated by viscometric titrations and equilibrium dialysis experiments. The parent ligands that contain anthracene or phenazine chromophores showed a monointercalative mode of DNA interaction (especially the anthracene derivative), with apparent association constants in the order of 10(4)M(-1). The corresponding platinum(II) complexes bind CT DNA through bisintercalation, as established by the significant increase of DNA contour length inferred from viscosity measurements, and the association constants are in the order of 10(5)M(-1). The naphthalene derivatives, however, exhibit a mixed mode of interaction, which suggests a partial contribution of both intercalation and groove binding for the ligand, and monointercalation in the case of the platinum(II) complex. Competition dialysis experiments carried out on the intercalative compounds have revealed a moderate selectivity towards GC DNA sequences for the derivatives containing the anthracene chromophore.

Concepts: DNA, Benzene, Ligand, EDTA, Derivative, Ethidium bromide, Doxorubicin, Ethylenediamine


Amyloid-β peptide is presumably a key etiological factor involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and several hypotheses exist on the possible ways Aβ contributes to the progression of the disease. There are reports on the nuclear localization of Aβ and very limited evidence on its DNA binding property. The present study provided the mechanism of Aβ enantiomers binding to DNA and showed that Aβ40L induces ψ-DNA, while Aβ40D causes only altered B-DNA. Further, we evidenced the DNA nicking property of Aβ enantiomers and endonuclease mimicking behavior. The role of Aβ in modulating DNA stability was reported by altered melting temperature and ethidium bromide binding studies. The data provides new evidence on stereospecific dependent Aβ-DNA interaction and we discuss its biological relevance to neurodegeneration. Our results imply that Aβ-DNA interaction needs to be considered a significant cause of the toxicity in the pathogenesis of AD.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, DNA, Critical thinking, Causality, Biology, Peptide, Ethidium bromide, Mutagen


The interactions of three cationic distyryl dyes, namely 2,4-bis(4-dimethylaminostyryl)-1-methylpyridinium (1 a), its derivative with a quaternary aminoalkyl chain (1 b), and the symmetric 2,6-bis(4-dimethylaminostyryl)-1-methylpyridinium (2 a), with several quadruplex and duplex nucleic acids were studied with the aim to establish the influence of the geometry of the dyes on their DNA-binding and DNA-probing properties. The results from spectrofluorimetric titrations and thermal denaturation experiments provide evidence that asymmetric (2,4-disubstituted) dyes 1 a and 1 b bind to quadruplex DNA structures with a near-micromolar affinity and a fair selectivity with respect to double-stranded (ds) DNA [K(a) (G4)/K(a) (ds)=2.5-8.4]. At the same time, the fluorescence of both dyes is selectively increased in the presence of quadruplex DNAs (more than 80-100-fold in the case of human telomeric quadruplex), even in the presence of an excess of competing double-stranded DNA. This optical selectivity allows these dyes to be used as quadruplex-DNA-selective probes in solution and stains in polyacrylamide gels. In contrast, the symmetric analogue 2 a displays a strong binding preference for double-stranded DNA [K(a) (ds)/K(a) (G4)=40-100), presumably due to binding in the minor groove. In addition, 2 a is not able to discriminate between quadruplex and duplex DNA, as its fluorescence is increased equally well (20-50-fold) in the presence of both structures. This study emphasizes and rationalizes the strong impact of subtle structural variations on both DNA-recognition properties and fluorimetric response of organic dyes.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Genetics, Ultraviolet, Nucleic acid, G-quadruplex, Nucleotide, Ethidium bromide



Competitive dye displacement titration has previously been used to characterize chitosan-DNA interactions using ethidium bromide. In this work, we aim to develop a fast and reliable method using SYBR Gold as a fluorescent probe to evaluate the binding affinity between ssRNA and chitosan. The interaction of chitosan with ssRNA was investigated as a function of temperature, molecular weight and degree of acetylation of chitosan, using competitive dye displacement titrations with fluorescence quenching. Affinity constants are reported, showing the high sensitivity of the interaction to the degree of acetylation of chitosan and barely dependent on the molecular weight. We propose that the mechanism of SYBR Gold fluorescence quenching is governed by both static and dynamic quenching.

Concepts: DNA, Fluorescence, Electron, Molecular biology, Ethidium bromide, Atomic mass unit, Agarose gel electrophoresis, Quenching


Mechanical stress plays a key role in many genomic processes, such as DNA replication and transcription. The ability to predict the response of double-stranded (ds) DNA to tension is a cornerstone of understanding DNA mechanics. It is widely appreciated that torsionally relaxed dsDNA exhibits a structural transition at forces of ∼65 pN, known as overstretching, whereby the contour length of the molecule increases by ∼70%. Despite extensive investigation, the structural changes occurring in DNA during overstretching are still generating considerable debate. Three mechanisms have been proposed to account for the increase in DNA contour length during overstretching: strand unpeeling, localized base-pair breaking (yielding melting bubbles), and formation of S-DNA (strand unwinding, while base pairing is maintained). Here we show, using a combination of fluorescence microscopy and optical tweezers, that all three structures can exist, uniting the often contradictory dogmas of DNA overstretching. We visualize and distinguish strand unpeeling and melting-bubble formation using an appropriate combination of fluorescently labeled proteins, whereas remaining B-form DNA is accounted for by using specific fluorescent molecular markers. Regions of S-DNA are associated with domains where fluorescent probes do not bind. We demonstrate that the balance between the three structures of overstretched DNA is governed by both DNA topology and local DNA stability. These findings enhance our knowledge of DNA mechanics and stability, which are of fundamental importance to understanding how proteins modify the physical state of DNA.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Transcription, Molecular biology, Base pair, DNA replication, Ethidium bromide


Human RAD52 promotes annealing of complementary single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). In-depth knowledge of RAD52-DNA interaction is required to understand how its activity is integrated in DNA repair processes. Here, we visualize individual fluorescent RAD52 complexes interacting with single DNA molecules. The interaction with ssDNA is rapid, static, and tight, where ssDNA appears to wrap around RAD52 complexes that promote intra-molecular bridging. With double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), interaction is slower, weaker, and often diffusive. Interestingly, force spectroscopy experiments show that RAD52 alters the mechanics dsDNA by enhancing DNA flexibility and increasing DNA contour length, suggesting intercalation. RAD52 binding changes the nature of the overstretching transition of dsDNA and prevents DNA melting, which is advantageous for strand clamping during or after annealing. DNA-bound RAD52 is efficient at capturing ssDNA in trans. Together, these effects may help key steps in DNA repair, such as second-end capture during homologous recombination or strand annealing during RAD51-independent recombination reactions.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, DNA repair, Recombinant DNA, Homologous recombination, Ethidium bromide, Genetic recombination


Controlled conversion of right-handed B-DNA to left-handed Z-DNA is one of the greatest conformational transitions in biology. Recently, the B-Z transition has been explored from nanotechnological points of view and used as the driving machinery of many nanomechanical devices. Using a combination of CD spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, and PAGE, we demonstrate that low concentration of lanthanum chloride can mediate B-to-Z transition in self-assembled Y-shaped branched DNA (bDNA) structure. The transition is sensitive to the sequence and structure of the bDNA. Thermal melting and competitive dye binding experiments suggest that La(3+) ions are loaded to the major and minor grooves of DNA and stabilize the Z-conformation. Our studies also show that EDTA and EtBr play an active role in reversing the transition from Z-to-B DNA.

Concepts: DNA, Spectroscopy, Molecular biology, Molecule, Ethidium bromide, DNA structure, Minor scale, Minor chord


The family of anticancer complexes that include the transition metal copper known as Casiopeínas® shows promising results. Two of these complexes are currently in clinical trials. The interaction of these compounds with DNA has been observed experimentally and several hypotheses regarding the mechanism of action have been developed, and these include the generation of reactive oxygen species, phosphate hydrolysis and/or base-pair intercalation. To advance in the understanding on how these ligands interact with DNA, we present a molecular dynamics study of 21 Casiopeínas with a DNA dodecamer using 10 μs of simulation time for each compound. All the complexes were manually inserted into the minor groove as the starting point of the simulations. The binding energy of each complex and the observed representative type of interaction between the ligand and the DNA is reported. With this extended sampling time, we found that four of the compounds spontaneously flipped open a base pair and moved inside the resulting cavity and four compounds formed stacking interactions with the terminal base pairs. The complexes that formed the intercalation pocket led to more stable interactions.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Transcription, Base pair, Hydrogen bond, Nucleotide, Ethidium bromide