Rapid cross-linking of an RNA internal loop by the anticancer drug cisplatin

J Am Chem Soc. 2009 Jul 8;131(26):9250-7. doi: 10.1021/ja809637e.


Cisplatin is the most prominent member of a series of platinum(II) antitumor drugs that demonstrate activity based on binding to adjacent purines on genomic DNA. The interactions between cisplatin and alternate biomolecules, including chemically similar RNA, are less understood than are those for DNA. In order to investigate potential implications of platinum(II) drug binding to a structurally complex RNA, we have characterized the reaction between cisplatin and the internal loop of a 41-nucleotide subdomain derived from the U2:U6 spliceosomal RNAs. This "BBD" RNA subdomain consists of a hairpin structure containing a purine-rich asymmetric internal loop. Aquated cisplatin is found to cross-link G nucleobases on opposing sides of the internal loop, forming an intramolecular internal loop cross-link in BBD and an analogous intermolecular cross-link in a two-piece construct containing the same internal loop sequence. The two opposing guanine residues involved in the cross-link were identified via limited alkaline hydrolysis. The kinetics of aquated cisplatin binding to the BBD RNA, a related RNA hairpin, and its DNA hairpin analogue were investigated in an ionic background of 0.1 M NaNO(3) and 1 mM Mg(NO(3))(2). Both BBD and the RNA hairpin react 5-6-fold faster than the DNA hairpin, with calculated second-order rate constants of 2.0(2), 1.7(3), and 0.33(3) M(-1) s(-1), respectively, at 37 degrees C, pH 7.8. MALDI-MS data corroborate the biochemical studies and support a model in which kinetically preferred platinum binding sites compete with less reactive sites in these oligonucleotides. Taken together, these data indicate that cisplatin treatment has potential to create internal loop and other unusual cross-links in structurally complex RNAs, on a time scale that is relevant for RNA-dependent biological processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology*
  • Cross-Linking Reagents / pharmacology*
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Nucleotides / analysis
  • Platinum / chemistry
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Time Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Nucleotides
  • Platinum
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Cisplatin