Biologically important conformational features of DNA as interpreted by quantum mechanics and molecular mechanics computations of its simple fragments

V. Poltev, V. M. Anisimov, V. Dominguez, E. Gonzalez, A. Deriabina, D. Garcia, F. Rivas, N. A. Polteva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deciphering the mechanism of functioning of DNA as the carrier of genetic information requires identifying inherent factors determining its structure and function. Following this path, our previous DFT studies attributed the origin of unique conformational characteristics of right-handed Watson-Crick duplexes (WCDs) to the conformational profile of deoxydinucleoside monophosphates (dDMPs) serving as the minimal repeating units of DNA strand. According to those findings, the directionality of the sugar-phosphate chain and the characteristic ranges of dihedral angles of energy minima combined with the geometric differences between purines and pyrimidines determine the dependence on base sequence of the three-dimensional (3D) structure of WCDs. This work extends our computational study to complementary deoxydinucleotide-monophosphates (cdDMPs) of non-standard conformation, including those of Z-family, Hoogsteen duplexes, parallel-stranded structures, and duplexes with mispaired bases. For most of these systems, except Z-conformation, computations closely reproduce experimental data within the tolerance of characteristic limits of dihedral parameters for each conformation family. Computation of cdDMPs with Z-conformation reveals that their experimental structures do not correspond to the internal energy minimum. This finding establishes the leading role of external factors in formation of the Z-conformation. Energy minima of cdDMPs of non-Watson-Crick duplexes demonstrate different sequence-dependence features than those known for WCDs. The obtained results provide evidence that the biologically important regularities of 3D structure distinguish WCDs from duplexes having non-Watson-Crick nucleotide pairing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number46
JournalJournal of Molecular Modeling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Conformation of biopolymers
  • Density functional theory
  • Molecular mechanics
  • Quantum mechanics computations
  • Sequence dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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