Encyclopedia of Biophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Gordon Roberts, Anthony Watts, European Biophysical Societies

DNA-Ligand Circular Dichroism

  • Alison RodgerEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_636-1



Deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, is composed of nucleotides which are planar aromatic bases linked to a sugar and a phosphate. Ligands that bind to DNA are usually cationic with their binding further stabilized by adopting a binding site that ensures complementarity of DNA and ligand shapes. For example, planar aromatic molecules often intercalate between base pairs, and bulky proteins adopt a position in the major groove. As long as the binding mode has an element of specificity about it, then one expects to see a change in the CD signal of the component DNA and ligand signals. This is particularly obvious when the ligand is achiral, so it has no intrinsic CD before binding to the DNA. The CD signals induced upon ligand binding to DNA (or any other chiral molecule) are characteristic of the interaction and may be interpreted to give data such as binding constants.

Basic Characteristics

DNA–Ligand Interactions


This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Garbett NC, Ragazzon PA, Chaires JB (2007) Circular dichroism to determine binding mode and affinity of ligand-DNA interactions. Nat Protoc 2:3166–3172CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Hiort C, Nordén B, Rodger A (1990) Enantioselective DNA binding of [Ru(1,10- phenanthroline)3]2+ studied with linear dichroism. J Am Chem Soc 112:1971–1982CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ismail MA, Sanders KJ, Fennel GC, Latham HC, Wormell P, Rodger A (1998) Spectroscopic studies of 9-hydroxyellipticine binding to DNA. Biopolymers 46:127–143CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Kubista M, Åkerman B, Nordén B (1988) Induced circular dichroism in nonintercalative DNA-drug complexes. Sector rules for structural applications. J Phys Chem 92:2352–2356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lyng R, Rodger A, Nordén B (1992a) The circular dichroism of drug-DNA systems. 1. Poly(dG-dC) 2 B-DNA. Biopolymers 31:1709–1719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lyng R, Rodger A, Nordén B (1992b) The circular dichroism of drug-DNA systems. 2. Poly(dA-dT) 2 B-DNA. Biopolymers 32:1201–1214CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. McDonnell U, Hicks MR, Hannon MJ, Rodger A (2008) DNA binding and bending by dinuclear complexes comprising ruthenium polypyridyl centres linked by a bis(pyridylimine) ligand. J Inorg Biochem 102:2052–2059CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Nordén B, Tjerneld F (1982) Structure of methylene blue DNA complexes studied by linear and circular dichroism spectroscopy. Biopolymers 21:1713–1734CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Nordén B, Wirth M, Ygge B, Buchardt O, Nielsen P (1986) Interactions between DNA and psoraleneamines studied with dichroism techniques. Photochem Photobiol 44:587–594CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Nordén B, Rodger A, Dafforn TR (2010) Linear dichroism and circular dichroism: a textbook on polarized spectroscopy. Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  11. Palumbo M, Capasso L, Palù G, Marciani MS (1984) DNA-binding of water soluble furocoumarins: a thermodynamic and conformational approach to understanding different biological effects. Nucleic Acids Res 12:8567–8578CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Rodger A, Blagbrough IS, Adlam GA, Carpenter ML (1994) DNA binding of a spermine derivative: spectroscopic study of anthracene-9-carbonyl-N1-spermine with poly(dG-dC) 2 and poly(dA-dT) 2. Biopolymers 34:1583–1593CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Rodger A, Taylor S, Adlam G, Blagbrough IS, Haworth IS (1995) Multiple DNA binding modes of anthracene-9-carbonyl-N1-spermine. Bioorg Med Chem 3:861–872CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Schipper PE, Rodger A (1983) Symmetry rules for the determination of the intercalation geometry of host/guest systems using circular dichroism: a symmetry adapted coupled-oscillator model. J Am Chem Soc 105:4541–4550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schipper PE, Nordén B, Tjerneld F (1980) Determination of binding geometry of DNA-adduct systems through induced circular dichroism. Chem Phys Lett 70:17–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Alison Rodger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Sciences, Macquarie UniversityNWSAustralia