Sequence-dependent dynamics of duplex DNA: The applicability of a dinucleotide model

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The short-time (submicrosecond) bending dynamics of duplex DNA were measured to determine the effect of sequence on dynamics. All measurements were obtained from a single site on duplex DNA, using a single, site-specific modified base containing a rigidly tethered, electron paramagnetic resonance active spin probe. The observed dynamics are interpreted in terms of single-step sequence-dependent bending force constants, determined from the mean squared amplitude of bending relative to the end-to-end vector using the modified weakly bending rod model. The bending dynamics at a single site are a function of the sequence of the nucleotides constituting the duplex DNA. We developed and examined several dinucleotide-based models for flexibility. The models indicate that the dominant feature of the dynamics is best explained in terms of purine- and pyrimidine-type steps, although distinction is made among all 10 unique steps: It was found that purine-purine steps (which are the same as pyrimidine-pyrimidine steps) were near average in flexibility, but the pyrimidine-purine steps (5′ to 3′) were nearly twice as flexible, whereas purine-pyrimidine steps were more than half as flexible as average DNA. Therefore, the range of stepwise flexibility is approximately fourfold and is characterized by both the type of base pair step (pyrimidine/purine combination) and the identity of the bases within the pair (G, A, T, or C). All of the four models considered here underscore the complexity of the dependence of dynamics on DNA sequence with certain sequences not satisfactorily explainable in terms of any dinucleotide model. These findings provide a quantitative basis for interpreting the dynamics and kinetics of DNA-sequence-dependent biological processes, including protein recognition and chromatin packaging.




Okonogi, T. M., Alley, S. C., Reese, A. W., Hopkins, P. B., & Robinson, B. H. (2002). Sequence-dependent dynamics of duplex DNA: The applicability of a dinucleotide model. Biophysical Journal, 83(6), 3446–3459.

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