Methoxyamine attack on cytosine produces ambivalent base pairing properties of the modified base

Zofia Gdaniec, Lawrence C. Sowers, G. Victor Fazakerley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We report the solution structure of two heptanucleotides each containing a central N4-methoxycytosine, in one case with adenine on the opposite strand and in the other with guanine. For the N4-methoxycytosine-adenine pair only the imino form of the N4-methoxycytosine residue is observed and base pairing is in Watson-Crick geometry. However, rotation of the methoxy group about the N-OCH3 bond is not constrained to a particular orientation although it must be anti to the N3 of N4-methoxycytosine. The slow exchange on a proton NMR time scale between the single strand and double strand forms is attributed to the strong preference of the syn conformation of the OCH3 group in the single strand which inhibits base pair formation. For N4-methoxycytosine base paired with guanosine we observe the N4-methoxycytosine base in the amino form in Watson-Crick geometry and a slow exchange of this species with an imino form base paired in wobble geometry. The amino form is predominant at low temperature whereas the imino form predominates above 40°C. Our results point to preferential replacement of dTTP by N4-methoxycytosine in primer elongation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
JournalActa Biochimica Polonica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA
  • Mutagenesis
  • N-methoxycytosine
  • NMR
  • Tautomerism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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