Utilizing linear dichroism (LD), circular dichroism (CD), and fluorescence energy transfer, the binding geometries of a series of Co3+-porphyrins and their free ligands were examined. The compounds studied were Co-meso-tetrakis(N-methylpyridinium-4-yl)porphyin (CoTMPyP) and its free ligand (H2− TMPyP), Co-meso-tetrakis(N-n-butylpyridinium-4-yl)porphyrin (CoTBPyP) and its free ligand (H2TBPyP), and Co-meso-tetrakis(N-n-octylpyridinium-4-yl)porphyrin (CoTOPyP). The two non-metalloporphyrins exhibit negative LD, having angles of roughly 75 ° relative to the DNA helix axis. They also display negative CD and a significant contact energy transfer from the DNA bases. On the other hand, the three metalloporphyrins display orientation angles of roughly 45° between the porphyrin plane and the helix axis of DNA. Furthermore, they exhibit positive CD and no contact energy transfer from DNA bases. These observations show that the metalloporphyrins are not intercalated whereas non-metalloporphyrins having four freely rotating meso-aryl groups intercalate between the base pairs of DNA. In the presence of KHSO5, the cobalt porphyrins cleave closed circular PM2 DNA in a single strand manner, i.e., a single activation event on the porphyrin leads to a break in one of the DNA strands. A kinetic analysis of the cleavage data revealed that cleavage rates are in the order CoTMPyP > CoTBPyP > CoTOPyP with the difference being due to different DNA affinities rather than differences in cleavage rate-constants. Based on these and earlier observations, the metalloporphyrins appear bound to a partially melted region of DNA.
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