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Disagreement Between the Structure of the dTpT Thymine Pair Determined by NMR and Molecular Dynamics Simulations Using Amber 14 Force Fields

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journal contribution
posted on 02.02.2016, 00:00 by Collins Nganou, Scott D. Kennedy, David W. McCamant
We report a disagreement between the predicted structures of the dTpT thymine pair (thymidylyl(3′ → 5′)­thymidine) using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations using the AMBER ff14SB and ff14 + ε/ζOL1 + χOL4 force fields for DNA. The NMR structure was determined using NOE couplings to thymine’s H6 and JHH couplings between sugar protons. The MD simulation used replica exchange methods to produce converged statistics in a 500 ns trajectory. NMR data indicate that both thymine nucleotides in the pair display an anti conformation of B-DNA, while the MD simulations predict a structure in which the 5′-thymine is flipped into a syn conformation and the 3′-thymine is in an anti conformation. The syn conformation of the 5′-thymine predicted by MD appears by a ∼ 180-deg flip of the glycosidic angle in comparison to the B-form anti structure. Differences in the distortion of the sugar pucker between 5′-thymine and 3′-thymine further highlighted the surprisingly different conformation of the 5′- and 3′-ends. While both MD and NMR indicate the deoxyribose sugars to be primarily in the 2′-endo conformation typical of B-form DNA, the MD simulations predict a more twisted conformation (2′-endo/1′-exo) for the 5′-sugar and significant flexibility of C3′ of the 3′-sugar. We conclude that the current AMBER force field does not accurately predict the conformation of single-stranded thymine, in agreement with previous work investigating single-stranded DNA.