B-DNA to zip-DNA: simulating a DNA transition to a novel structure with enhanced charge-transport characteristics.
The forced extension of a DNA segment is studied in a series of steered molecular dynamics simulations, employing a broad range of pulling forces. Throughout the entire force range, the formation of a zipper-like (zip-) DNA structure is observed. In that structure, first predicted by Lohikoski et al., the bases of the DNA strands interdigitate with each other and form a single-base aromatic stack. Similar motifs, albeit only a few base pairs in extent, have been observed in experimental crystal structures. Analysis of the dynamics of structural changes in pulled DNA shows that S-form DNA, thought to be adopted by DNA under applied force, serves as an intermediate between B-DNA and zip-DNA. Therefore, the phase transition plateau observed in force-extension curves of DNA is suggested to reflect the B-DNA to zip-DNA structural transition. Electronic structure analysis of purine bases in zip-DNA indicates a several-fold to order of magnitude increase in the π-π electronic coupling among nearest-neighbor nucleobases, compared to B-DNA. We further observe that zip-DNA does not require base pair complementarity between DNA strands, and we predict that the increased electronic coupling in zip-DNA will result in a much higher rate of charge transfer through an all-purine zip-DNA compared to B-DNA of equal length.
Balaeff, A; Craig, SL; Beratan, DN
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)