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J Chem Phys. 2005 May 22;122(20):204322.

On geometries of stacked and H-bonded nucleic acid base pairs determined at various DFT, MP2, and CCSD(T) levels up to the CCSD(T)/complete basis set limit level.

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Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and Center for Biomolecules and Complex Molecular Systems, Flemingovo nám.2, 166 10 Prague 6, Czech Republic.


The geometries and interaction energies of stacked and hydrogen-bonded uracil dimers and a stacked adeninecdots, three dots, centeredthymine pair were studied by means of high-level quantum chemical calculations. Specifically, standard as well as counterpoise-corrected optimizations were performed at second-order Moller-Plesset (MP2) and coupled cluster level of theory with single, double, and perturbative triple excitations [CCSD(T)] levels with various basis sets up to the complete basis set limit. The results can be summarized as follows: (i) standard geometry optimization with small basis set (e.g., 6-31G(*)) provides fairly reasonable intermolecular separation; (ii) geometry optimization with extended basis sets at the MP2 level underestimates the intermolecular distances compared to the reference CCSD(T) results, whereas the MP2/cc-pVTZ counterpoise-corrected optimization agrees well with the reference geometries and, therefore, is recommended as a next step for improving MP2/cc-pVTZ geometries; (iii) the stabilization energy of stacked nucleic acids base pairs depends considerably on the method used for geometry optimization, so the use of reliable geometries, such as counterpoise-corrected MP2/cc-pVTZ ones, is recommended; (iv) the density functional theory methods fail completely in locating the energy minima for stacked structures and when the geometries from MP2 calculations are used, the resulting stabilization energies are strongly underestimated; (v) the self-consistent charges-density functional tight binding method, with inclusion of the empirical dispersion energy, accurately reproduces interaction energies and geometries of dispersion-bonded (stacked) complexes; this method can thus be recommended for prescanning the potential energy surfaces of van der Waals complexes.

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