Temperature dependence of the Raman spectrum of DNA. II. Raman signatures of premelting and melting transitions of poly(dA)·poly(dT) and comparison with poly(dA-dT)·poly(dA-dT)

Liviu Movileanu, James M. Benevides, George J. Thomas

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84 Scopus citations


The temperature dependence of the Raman spectrum of poly(dA)·poly(dT) (dA: deoxyadenosine; dT: thymidine), a model for DNA containing consecutive adenine·thymine (A·T) pairs, has been analyzed using a spectrometer of high spectral precision and sensitivity. Three temperature intervals are distinguished: (a) premelting (10 < t < 70°C), in which the native double helix is structurally altered but not dissociated into single strands; (b) melting (70 < t < 80°C), in which the duplex is dissociated into single strands; and (c) postmelting (80 < t°C), in which no significant structural change can be detected. The distinctive Raman difference signatures observed between 10 and 70°C and between 70 and 80°C are interpreted in terms of the structural changes specific to premelting and melting transitions, respectively. Premelting alters the low-temperature conformation of the deoxyribose-phosphate backbone and eliminates base hydrogen bonding that is distinct from canonical Watson-Crick hydrogen bonding; these premelting perturbations occur without disruption of base stacking. Conversely, melting eliminates canonical Watson-Crick pairing and base stacking. The results are compared with those reported previously on poly(dA-dT)·poly(dA-dT), the DNA structure consisting of alternating A·T and T·A pairs (L. Movileanu, J. M. Benevides, and G. J. Thomas, Jr. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, 1999, Vol. 30, pp. 637-649). Poly(dA)·poly(dT) and poly(dA-dT)·poly(dA-dT) exhibit strikingly dissimilar temperature-dependent Raman profiles prior to the onset of melting. However, the two duplexes exhibit very similar melting transitions, including the same Raman indicators of ruptured Watson-Crick pairing, base unstacking and collapse of backbone order. A detailed analysis of the data provides a comprehensive Raman assignment scheme for adenosine and thymidine residues of B-DNA, delineates Raman markers diagnostic of consecutive A·T and alternating A·T/T·A tracts of DNA, and identifies the distinct Raman difference signatures for premelting and melting transitions in the two types of sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-194
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Adenine·thymine pair
  • B-DNA
  • Hydrogen bond
  • Premelting
  • Vibrational assignments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Organic Chemistry


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