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Enzymatic reaction with unnatural substrates: DNA photolyase (Escherichia coli) recognizes and reverses thymine [2+2] dimers in the DNA strand of a DNA/PNA hybrid duplex

The National Academy of Sciences
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  • Biological Sciences
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) are mimics with normal bases connected to a pseudopeptide chain that obey Watson–Crick rules to form stable duplexes with itself and natural nucleic acids. This has focused attention on PNA as therapeutic or diagnostic reagents. Duplexes formed with PNA mirror some but not all properties of DNA. One fascinating aspect of PNA biochemistry is their reaction with enzymes. Here we show an enzyme reaction that operates effectively on a PNA/DNA hybrid duplex. A DNA oligonucleotide containing a cis, syn-thymine [2+2] dimer forms a stable duplex with PNA. The hybrid duplex is recognized by photolyase, and irradiation of the complex leads to the repair of the thymine dimer. This finding provides insight into the enzyme mechanism and provides a means for the selective repair of thymine photodimers.

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