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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Apr 27;127(16):6027-38.

Recognition of RNA by amide modified backbone nucleic acids: molecular dynamics simulations of DNA-RNA hybrids in aqueous solution.

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Syngenta Crop Protection AG, P.O. Box, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland.


Thermodynamic and structural properties of a chemically modified DNA-RNA hybrid in which a phosphodiester linkage is replaced by a neutral amide-3 linkage (3'-CH(2)-CONH-5') were investigated using UV melting experiments, molecular dynamics simulations in explicit water, and continuum solvent models. van't Hoff analysis of the experimental UV melting curves suggests that the significant increase of the thermodynamic stability of a 15-mer DNA-RNA with seven alternated amide-3 modifications (+11 degrees C) is mainly due to an increased binding enthalpy. To further evaluate the origin in the observed affinities differences, the electrostatic contribution to the binding free energy was calculated by solving the Poisson-Boltzmann equation numerically. The nonelectrostatic contribution was estimated as the product of a hydrophobic surface tension coefficient and the surface area that is buried upon double strand formation. Structures were taken from 10 ns molecular dynamics simulations computed in a consistent fashion using explicit solvent, counterions, and the particle-mesh Ewald procedure. The present preliminary thermodynamic study suggests that the favorable binding free energy of the amide-3 DNA single strand to the complementary RNA is equally driven by electrostatic and nonpolar contributions to the binding compared to their natural analogues. In addition, molecular dynamics simulations in explicit water were performed on an amide-3 DNA single strand and the corresponding natural DNA. Results from the conformations cluster analysis of the simulated amide-3 DNA single strand ensembles suggest that the 25% of the population sampled within 10 ns has a pre-organized conformation where the sugar C3' endo pucker is favored at the 3'-flanking nucleotides. These structural and thermodynamic features contribute to the understanding of the observed increased affinities of the amide-3 DNA-RNA hybrids at the microscopic level.

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