Sequence-selective single-molecule alkylation with a pyrrole-imidazole polyamide visualized in a DNA nanoscaffold

J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Mar 14;134(10):4654-60. doi: 10.1021/ja209023u. Epub 2012 Feb 29.


We demonstrate a novel strategy for visualizing sequence-selective alkylation of target double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) using a synthetic pyrrole-imidazole (PI) polyamide in a designed DNA origami scaffold. Doubly functionalized PI polyamide was designed by introduction of an alkylating agent 1-(chloromethyl)-5-hydroxy-1,2-dihydro-3H-benz[e]indole (seco-CBI) and biotin for sequence-selective alkylation at the target sequence and subsequent streptavidin labeling, respectively. Selective alkylation of the target site in the substrate DNA was observed by analysis using sequencing gel electrophoresis. For the single-molecule observation of the alkylation by functionalized PI polyamide using atomic force microscopy (AFM), the target position in the dsDNA (∼200 base pairs) was alkylated and then visualized by labeling with streptavidin. Newly designed DNA origami scaffold named "five-well DNA frame" carrying five different dsDNA sequences in its cavities was used for the detailed analysis of the sequence-selectivity and alkylation. The 64-mer dsDNAs were introduced to five individual wells, in which target sequence AGTXCCA/TGGYACT (XY = AT, TA, GC, CG) was employed as fully matched (X = G) and one-base mismatched (X = A, T, C) sequences. The fully matched sequence was alkylated with 88% selectivity over other mismatched sequences. In addition, the PI polyamide failed to attach to the target sequence lacking the alkylation site after washing and streptavidin treatment. Therefore, the PI polyamide discriminated the one mismatched nucleotide at the single-molecule level, and alkylation anchored the PI polyamide to the target dsDNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkylation
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Imidazoles / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Nylons / chemistry*
  • Pyrroles / chemistry*


  • Imidazoles
  • Nylons
  • Pyrroles
  • imidazole
  • DNA