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J Mol Biol. 1983 May 25;166(3):419-41.

Base sequence and helix structure variation in B and A DNA.


The observed propeller twist in base-pairs of crystalline double-helical DNA oligomers improves the stacking overlap along each individual helix strand. But, as proposed by Calladine, it also leads to clash or steric hindrance between purines at adjacent base-pairs on opposite strands of the helix. This clash can be relieved by: (1) decreasing the local helix twist angle between base-pairs; (2) opening up the roll angle between base-pairs on the side on which the clash occurs; (3) separating purines by sliding base-pairs along their long axes so that the purines are partially pulled out of the stack (leading to equal but opposite alterations in main-chain torsion angle delta at the two ends of the base-pair); and (4) flattening the propeller twist of the offending base-pairs. Simple sum functions, sigma 1 through sigma 4, are defined, by which the expected local variation in helix twist, base roll angle, torsion angle delta and propeller twist may be calculated from base sequence. All four functions are quite successful in predicting the behavior of B DNA. Only the helix twist and base roll functions are applicable to A DNA, and the helix twist function begins to fail for an A helical RNA/DNA hybrid. Within these limits, the sequence-derived sum functions match the observed helix parameter variation quite closely, with correlation coefficients greater than 0.900 in nearly all cases. Implications of this sequence-derived helix parameter variation for repressor-operator interactions are considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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