Pyrimidine base pairs in DNA duplexes selectively capture metal ions to form metal ion-mediated base pairs, which can be evaluated by thermal denaturation, isothermal titration calorimetry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. In this critical review, we discuss the metal ion binding of pyrimidine bases (thymine, cytosine, 4-thiothymine, 2-thiothymine, 5-fluorouracil) in DNA duplexes. Thymine-thymine (T-T) and cytosine-cytosine (C-C) base pairs selectively capture Hg(ii) and Ag(i) ions, respectively, and the metallo-base pairs, T-Hg(ii)-T and C-Ag(i)-C, are formed in DNA duplexes. The metal ion binding properties of the pyrimidine-pyrimidine pairs can be changed by small chemical modifications. The binding selectivity of a metal ion to a 5-fluorouracil-5-fluorouracil pair in a DNA duplex can be switched by changing the pH of the solution. Two silver ions bind to each thiopyrimidine-thiopyrimidine pair in the duplexes, and the duplexes are largely stabilized. Oligonucleotides containing these bases are commercially available and can readily be applied in many scientific fields (86 references).
ASJC Scopus subject areas