The structural consequences of specific base sequences in DNA can exert a strong influence on the function of DNA. It has previously been reported that the presence of multiple B-Z conformational junctions in constructed DNA oligomers results in unusually enhanced electrophoretic gel mobilities of these oligomers [Winkle, S.A., & Sheardy, R.D. (1990) Biochemistry 29, 6514-6521]. In order to investigate this phenomenon further, we designed and synthesized several DNA oligomers capable of pure Z or B-Z junction formation for polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis studies. The results indicate that both pure Z-DNA and polymorphic B-Z-DNA oligomers exhibit unusual gel migratory properties. The results of gel mobility studies in the absence and presence of cobalt hexamine indicate that a B-Z junction corresponds to a stiff bend of the helix axis, with two or more conformers accessible at the junction site. This is a different bend and mechanism than that in oligo(A) tracts.
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