Quinomycin C, triostin A and triostin C are peptide antibiotics of the quinoxaline family, of which echinomycin (quinomycin A) is also a member. They all remove and reverse the supercoiling of closed circular duplex DNA from bacteriophage PM2 in the fashion characteristic of intercalating drugs, and the unwinding angle at I 0.01 is, in all cases, almost twice that of ethidium. Thus, as with echinomycin, they can be characterized as bifunctional intercalating agents. For the triostins this conclusion has been confirmed by measurements of changes in the viscosity of sonicated rod-like DNA fragments; the helix extension was found to be almost double that expected for a simple monofunctional intercalation process. For triostin A, further evidence for bifunctionality was derived from the cross-over point of binding isotherms to nicked circular and closed circular bacteriophage-PM2DNA. Binding curves for the interaction of quinomycin C and triostin A with a variety of synthetic and naturally occurring nucleic acids were determined by solvent-partition analysis, but triostin C was too insoluble in aqueous solution to make this method applicable. For quinomycin C the highest binding constant was found with Micrococcus lysodeikticus DNA, and its pattern of specificity among natural DNA species was broadly similar to that of echinomycin, although the binding constants were 2–6 times as large. For triostin A the highest binding constant was again found for M. lysodeikticus DNA, but the specificity pattern was quite different from that of the quinomycins. In particular, triostin A bound better to poly(dA-dT) than to the poly(dG-dC) whereas this order was reversed for quinomycin C. There was also evidence that the binding to poly(dA-dT) might be co-operative in nature. No significant interaction could be detected with poly(dA).poly(dT) or with RNA from Escherichia coli. Poly(dG).poly(dC) gave variable results, depending on the source of the polymer. The different patterns of specificity displayed by the quinomycins and triostins are tentatively ascribed to differences in their conformations in solution.

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