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Impact of Arsenic/Phosphorus Substitution on the Intrinsic Conformational Properties of the Phosphodiester Backbone of DNA Investigated Using ab Initio Quantum Mechanical Calculations

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journal contribution
posted on 20.04.2011 by Elizabeth J. Denning, Alexander D. MacKerell
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is composed of five major elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus. The substitution of any of these elements in DNA would be anticipated to have major biological implications. However, recent studies have suggested that the substitution of arsenic into DNA (As-DNA) in bacteria may be possible. To help evaluate this possibility, ab initio quantum mechanical calculations are used to show that arsenodiester and phosphodiester linkages have similar geometric and conformational properties. Based on these results, it is suggested that the As-DNA will have similar conformational properties to phosphorus-based DNA, including the maintenance of base stacking.

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