Specific high-affinity binding of thiazole orange to triplex and g-quadruplex DNA

Irit Lubitz, Dragoslav Zikich, Alexander Kotlyar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interaction of Thiazole Orange (TO) with double-, triple-, and quadruple-stranded forms of DNA was studied. We have demonstrated by UV-vis absorption, circular dichroism (CD), and fluorescence spectroscopy that TO binds with much higher affinity to triplex and G-quadruplex DNA structures compared to double-stranded (ds) DNA. Complexes of the dye with DNA triplexes and G-quadruplexes are very stable and do not dissociate during chromatography and gel electrophoresis. TO binding to either triple- or quadruple-stranded DNA structures results in a >1000-fold increase in dye fluorescence. The fluorescence titration data showed that TO to triad and tetrad ratios, in tight complexes with the triplex and the G-quadruplex, are equal to 0.5 and 1, respectively. Preferential binding of TO to triplexes and G-quadruplexes enables selective detection of only these DNA forms in gels in the absence of free TO in electrophoresis running buffer. We have also demonstrated that incubation of U2OS cells with submicromolar concentrations of TO results in preferential staining of certain areas in the nucleus in contrast to DAPI which binds to dsDNA and efficiently stains regions that are unstained with TO. We suggest that TO staining may be useful for the detection of noncanonical structural motifs in genomic DNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3567-3574
Number of pages8
Issue number17
StatePublished - 4 May 2010


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