Two novel antibiotics were isolated, designated compounds 1QN and 2QN respectively, having quinoline rings in place of one or both of the quinoxaline chromophores of echinomycin. Each removes and reverses the supercoiling of closed circular duplex DNA from bacteriophage PM2 in the fashion characteristic of intercalating drugs. For compound 1QN, the unwinding angle at I0.01 is almost twice that of ethidium, whereas for compound 2QN the value is indistinguishable from that of ethidium. Binding of both analogues produced changes in the viscosity of sonicated rod-like DNA fragments corresponding to double the helix extension found with ethidium, a feature characteristic of bifunctional intercalation by quinoxaline antibiotics. These results suggest that both compounds 1QN and 2QN behave as bifunctional intercalators but that compound 2QN produces only half the helix unwinding seen with compound 1QN and the natural quinoxalines. Binding curves for the interaction of both analogues with a variety of synthetic and naturally occurring nucleic acids were determined by solvent-partition analysis. Values for compound 2QN were also obtained by a fluorimetric method and found to agree well with the solvent-partition measurements. Compound 1QN bound most tightly to Micrococcus lysodeikticus DNA and, like echinomycin, exhibited a broad preference for (G + C)-rich DNA species. For compound 2QN no marked (G + C) preference was indicated, and the tightest binding among the natural DNA species studied was found with DNA from Escherichia coli. The two analogues also displayed different patterns of specificity in their interaction with synthetic nucleic acids. Compound 2QN bound to poly(dA-dT) slightly more tightly than to poly-(dG-dC), whereas compound 1QN displayed a large (approx. 11-fold) preference in the opposite sense. There was evidence of co-operativity in the binding to poly(dA-dT). It may be concluded that the chromophore moieties play an active role in determining the capacity of quinomycin antibiotics to recognize and bind selectively to specific sequences in DNA.

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