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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jun 1986; 83(11): 3746–3750.
PMCID: PMC323600

Predicting DNA duplex stability from the base sequence.


We report the complete thermodynamic library of all 10 Watson-Crick DNA nearest-neighbor interactions. We obtained the relevant thermodynamic data from calorimetric studies on 19 DNA oligomers and 9 DNA polymers. We show how these thermodynamic data can be used to calculate the stability and predict the temperature-dependent behavior of any DNA duplex structure from knowledge of its base sequence. We illustrate our method of calculation by using the nearest-neighbor data to predict transition enthalpies and free energies for a series of DNA oligomers. These predicted values are in excellent agreement with the corresponding values determined experimentally. This agreement demonstrates that a DNA duplex structure thermodynamically can be considered to be the sum of its nearest-neighbor interactions. Armed with this knowledge and the nearest-neighbor thermodynamic data reported here, scientists now will be able to predict the stability (delta G degree) and the melting behavior (delta H degree) of any DNA duplex structure from inspection of its primary sequence. This capability should prove valuable in numerous applications, such as predicting the stability of a probe-gene complex; selecting optimal conditions for a hybridization experiment; deciding on the minimum length of a probe; predicting the influence of a specific transversion or transition on the stability of an affected DNA region; and predicting the relative stabilities of local domains within a DNA duplex.

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