The non-covalent interaction of five novel ruthenium(II) bis-terpyridine complexes with calf thymus DNA and, where appropriate, with poly[d(G-C)](2) and poly[d(A-T)](2) is described. Each complex is functionalised with aryl tail groups in the 4' position of the terpyridine ligands ((i) 9-anthracenyl, (ii) 4,4'-biphenyl, (iii) beta-naphthyl, (iv) 9-phenanthrenyl, and (v) I-pyrenyl). Circular dichroism and linear dichroism show that the binding of three of the complexes (phenanthrenyl, anthracenyl and pyrenyl) at low metal complex concentration is dominated by intercalation of the aryl tail groups between the DNA bases. The complex with the biphenyl tail predominantly exhibits groove binding with no significant tail intercalation. The naphthyl derivative binds both by intercalation and a non-intercalative mode even at low metal complex concentrations. At high metal complex concentrations, aggregation of the complexes on the DNA is observed. Resonance light scattering indicates that the aggregates are of low nuclearity along the groove. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved
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