Concetta Giancola

Professor of Physical Chemistry

Name Concetta
Surname Giancola
Institution University of Naples – Federico II
Address Department of Pharmacy, University of Napoli Federico II, Via D. Montesano 49, 80131, Napoli, Italy; InterUniversity Center for Research in Neurosciences, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Napoli, Italy
Concetta Giancola


  • Physico-chemical analysis of G-quadruplex containing bunch-oligonucleotides.

    Publication Date: 20/02/2007 on International journal of biological macromolecules
    by Petraccone L, Martino L, Duro I, Oliviero G, Borbone N, Piccialli G, Giancola C
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2006.07.013

    A growing number of evidences suggest that DNA G-quadruplex structures play an important role in many relevant biological processes. The introduction of chemical modifications in quadruplex structures could enhance the in vivo biological activity. The correlation between the physico-chemical properties and chemical modifications represents an essential step toward the de novo design of quadruplex forming oligonucleotides for biomedical applications. We report the physico-chemical characterisation of a quadruplex formed by a bunch of four d(TG4T) oligonucleotides whose 3'-ends are linked together by a tetra-branched linker. The study was performed by circular dichroism, gel electrophoresis and molecular modelling techniques. The data indicate an high stability for this kind of quadruplex and add some information on the role of the tetra-branched linker on the quadruplex stability.

  • Thermodynamic analysis of quadruplex DNA-drug interaction.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2007 on Nucleosides, nucleotides & nucleic acids
    by Pagano B, Mattia CA, Virno A, Randazzo A, Mayol L, Giancola C
    DOI: 10.1080/15257770701499069

    This work studies the binding properties of distamycin and its carbamoyl analog, containing four pyrrole units, with the [d(TGGGGT)](4) quadruplex by means of isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). Analysis of the ITC data reveals that drug/quadruplex binding stoichiometry is 1:1 for both interactions and that distamycin analog gives approximately a 10-fold increase in the quadruplex affinity.

  • Effect of the incorporation of 2'-deoxy-8-(hydroxyl)adenosine on the stability of quadruplexes formed by modified human telomeric DNA.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2007 on Nucleosides, nucleotides & nucleic acids
    by Petraccone L, Duro I, Erra E, Randazzo A, Virno A, Giancola C
    DOI: 10.1080/15257770701490597

    Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and circular dichroism (CD) techniques were used to investigate the physico-chemical properties of the quadruplexes formed by the two different truncations of human telomeric sequence d(TAGGGT) and d(AGGGT), where the adenines were substituted by 2'-deoxy-8-(hydroxyl)adenosine (A --> A OH). CD spectra show that the modified sequences are able to form parallel-stranded quadruplex structure. Analysis of the thermodynamic parameters reveals that the introduction of the modified adenine affects in different way the thermal stability of the [d(TAGGGT)]4 and [d(AGGGT)]4 quadruplexes.

  • Biophysical properties of quadruplexes containing two or three 8-bromodeoxyguanosine residues.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2007 on Nucleosides, nucleotides & nucleic acids
    by Petraccone L, Duro I, Randazzo A, Virno A, Mayol L, Giancola C
    DOI: 10.1080/15257770701490589

    A physico-chemical characterization, based on NMR and CD spectroscopy, of quadruplexes formed by the oligonucleotide d(TGGGT), where two or three Gs are substituted by 8-bromo-2'-deoxyguanosine residues (dGBr), is reported. The oligonucleotidic sequences d(TGBr GBr GT), d(TGBr GGBr T), d(TGGBr GBr T), and d(TGBr GBr GBr T) have been synthesized. Only sequences d(TGBr GGBr T) and d(TGBr GBr GT) were able to fold into a well defined quadruplex structure, and their CD profiles and thermal stabilities turned out to be very different from those observed for the natural counterpart, indicating that the 8-Br-dG residues dramatically affect the structure of the quadruplex.

  • Synthesis and biophysical characterization of G-rich oligonucleotides conjugated with sugar-phosphate tails.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2007 on Nucleosides, nucleotides & nucleic acids
    by D'Onofrio J, Erra E, Di Fabio G, Iadonisi A, Petraccone L, De Napoli L, Barone G, Balzarini J, Giancola C, Montesarchio D
    DOI: 10.1080/15257770701528164

    A number of 5'-and 3'-glycoconjugates of the oligonucleotide (5')d(TGGGAG)(3') have been synthesized, exploiting fully automated, online phosphoramidite-based solid phase strategy, as potential anti-HIV-1 agents. The thermodynamic stability of the resulting quadruplexes has been investigated by thermal denaturation studies, via a detailed CD Q1 analysis.

  • Energetic aspects of locked nucleic acids quadruplex association and dissociation.

    Publication Date: 15/12/2006 on Biopolymers
    by Petraccone L, Erra E, Randazzo A, Giancola C
    DOI: 10.1002/bip.20591

    The design of modified nucleic acid aptamers is improved by considering thermodynamics and kinetics of their association/dissociation processes. Locked Nucleic Acids (LNA) is a promising class of nucleic acid analogs. In this work the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of a LNA quadruplex formed by the TGGGT sequence, containing only conformationally restricted LNA residues, are reported and compared to those of 2'-OMe-RNA (O-RNA) and DNA quadruplexes. The thermodynamic analysis indicates that the sugar-modified quadruplexes (LNA and O-RNA) are stabilized by entropic effects. The kinetic analysis shows that LNA and O-RNA quadruplexes are characterized by a slower dissociation and a faster association with respect to DNA quadruplex. Interestingly, the LNA quadruplex formation process shows a second-order kinetics with respect to single strand concentration and has a negative activation energy. To explain these data, a mechanism for tetramer formation with two intermediate states was proposed.

  • A new modified thrombin binding aptamer containing a 5'-5' inversion of polarity site.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2006 on Nucleic acids research
    by Martino L, Virno A, Randazzo A, Virgilio A, Esposito V, Giancola C, Bucci M, Cirino G, Mayol L
    DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkl915

    The solution structure of a new modified thrombin binding aptamer (TBA) containing a 5'-5' inversion of polarity site, namely d(3'GGT5'-5'TGGTGTGGTTGG3'), is reported. NMR and CD spectroscopy, as well as molecular dynamic and mechanic calculations, have been used to characterize the 3D structure. The modified oligonucleotide is characterized by a chair-like structure consisting of two G-tetrads connected by three edge-wise TT, TGT and TT loops. d(3'GGT5'-5'TGGTGTGGTTGG3') is characterized by an unusual folding, being three strands parallel to each other and only one strand oriented in opposite manner. This led to an anti-anti-anti-syn and syn-syn-syn-anti arrangement of the Gs in the two tetrads. The thermal stability of the modified oligonucleotide is 4 degrees C higher than the corresponding unmodified TBA. d(3'GGT5'-5'TGGTGTGGTTGG3') continues to display an anticoagulant activity, even if decreased with respect to the TBA.

  • Thermodynamics and kinetics of PNA-DNA quadruplex-forming chimeras.

    Publication Date: 23/11/2005 on Journal of the American Chemical Society
    by Petraccone L, Pagano B, Esposito V, Randazzo A, Piccialli G, Barone G, Mattia CA, Giancola C
    DOI: 10.1021/ja0545923

    PNA-DNA chimeras present the interesting properties of PNA, such as the high binding affinity to complementary single-strand (DNA or RNA), and the resistance to nuclease and protease degradation. At the same time, the limitations of an oligomer containing all PNA residues, such as low water solubility, self-aggregation, and low cellular uptake, are effectively overcome. Further, PNA-DNA chimeras possess interesting biological properties as antisense agents. We have explored the ability of PNA-DNA chimeric strands to assemble in quadruplex structures. The rate constant for association of the quadruplexes and their thermodynamic properties have been determined by CD spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Thermal denaturation experiments indicated higher thermal and thermodynamic stabilities for chimeric quadruplexes in comparison with the corresponding unmodified DNA quadruplex. Singular value decomposition analysis (SVD) suggests the presence of kinetically stable intermediate species in the quadruplex formation process. The experimental results have been discussed on the basis of molecular dynamic simulations. The ability of PNA-DNA chimeras to form stable quadruplex structures expands their potential utility as therapeutic agents.

  • Quadruplex-forming oligonucleotides as tools in anticancer therapy and aptamers design: energetic aspects.

    Publication Date: 01/09/2005 on Current medicinal chemistry. Anti-cancer agents
    by Petraccone L, Barone G, Giancola C

    Recent investigations on the G-quadruplex motif propose a new strategy for the making of antitumour drugs. Quadruplex-drug complexes have been suggested to inhibit telomerase activity; further, aptamers based on the quadruplex motif have been proved useful as tools aimed at binding and inhibiting particular proteins, thus serving as pharmaceutically active agents. However, the design of new aptamers is difficult because many factors affecting their activity and stability have not still been clarified. The knowledge of the energetics of quadruplex formation is a crucial point in view of their potential therapeutic utilization both as targets as well as therapeutic agents. In this review the energetic aspects of both quadruplex assembly and quadruplex-ligand interactions are discussed together with a summary of recent studies on physico-chemical properties in solution of quadruplex structures obtained from synthetic aptamers, including PNA-DNA chimeras.

  • Biophysical properties of quadruple helices of modified human telomeric DNA.

    Publication Date: 05/02/2005 on Biopolymers
    by Petraccone L, Erra E, Esposito V, Randazzo A, Galeone A, Barone G, Giancola C
    DOI: 10.1002/bip.20189

    Telomeric DNA of a variety of vertebrates including humans contains the tandem repeat d(TTAGGG)n. The guanine rich strand can fold into four-stranded G-quadruplex structures, which have recently become attractive for biomedical research. Indeed, the aptamers based on the quadruplex motif may prove useful as tools aimed at binding and inhibiting particular proteins, catalyzing various biochemical reactions, or even serving as pharmaceutically active agents. The incorporation of modified bases into oligonucleotides can have profound effects on their folding and may produce useful changes in physical and biological properties of the resulting DNA fragments. In this work, the adenines of the human telomeric repeat oligonucleotide d(TAGGGT) and d(AGGGT) were substituted by 2'-deoxy-8-(propyn-1-yl)adenosine (A-->APr) or by 8-bromodeoxyadenosine (A-->ABr). The biophysical properties of the resulting quadruplex structures were compared with the unmodified quadruplexes. NMR and CD spectra of the studied sequences were characteristic of parallel-stranded, tetramolecular quadruplexes. The analysis of the equilibrium melting curves reveals that the modifications stabilize the quadruplex structure. The results are useful when considering the design of novel aptameric nucleic acids with diverse molecular recognition capabilities that would not be present using native RNA/DNA sequences.