Left-handed Z-DNA and intramolecular triplex formation at the site of an unequal sister chromatid exchange

Ari Weinreb, David A. Collier, Barbara K. Birshtein, Robert D. Wells

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76 Scopus citations


An unequal sister chromatid exchange (USCE) in the mouse myeloma cell line MPC-11 between 3′ regions of the Cγ2a and Cγ2b heavy chain genes results in duplication of the Cγ2a heavy chain gene and generation of a novel recombination joint. The USCE occurs between (TC)n tracts adjacent to alternating purinepyrimidine tracts. We have investigated the capacity of both the donor regions and the recombinant product involved in this event to adopt left-handed Z-DNA and intramolecular triplexes. The results of chemical probing with diethylpyrocarbonate and osmium tetroxide at the base pair level demonstrate that under the influence of negative supercoiling the alternating purinepyrimidine regions of these plasmids can adopt Z-DNA at neutral pH, and the oligopurine · oligopyrimidine (pur · pyr) regions of these regions can adopt intramolecular triplexes at low pH (≤ pH 6.0). At intermediate pH values, mixtures of both structures are present. Increasing the negative superhelical density of the plasmid does not increase the amount of triplex present at neutral pH indicating that the presence of long Z-DNA segments adjacent to pur · pyr tract prevents intramolecular triplex formation. In summary, we conclude that the sequences involved in the USCE can form either an intramolecular triplex in the (TC)n tract or Z-DNA in the alternating purine-pyrimidine tract and that Z-DNA will predominate under physiological conditions. The presence of segments which adopt Z-DNA at a site of USCE suggests that formation of this structure may enhance recombination between adjacent pur-pyr tracts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1352-1359
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 25 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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