Cytosine rich sequences can form intercalated, i-motif DNA structures stabilized by hemi-protonated cytosine:cytosine base pairing. These sequences are often located in regulatory regions of genes such as promoters. Ligands targeting i-motif structures may provide potential leads for treatments for genetic disease. The focus on ligands interacting with i-motif DNA has been increasing in recent years. Here, we describe the fluorescent intercalator displacement (FID) assay using thiazole orange binding i-motif DNA and assess the binding affinity of a ligand to the i-motif DNA by displacing thiazole orange. This provides a time and cost-effective high throughput screening of ligands against secondary DNA structures for hit identification.

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