Differential stability of DNA crossovers in solution mediated by divalent cations

Varnai, Peter and Timsit, Youri (2010) Differential stability of DNA crossovers in solution mediated by divalent cations. Nucleic Acids Research, 38 (12). pp. 4163-4172. ISSN 0305-1048

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The assembly of DNA duplexes into higher-order structures plays a major role in many vital cellular functions such as recombination, chromatin packaging and gene regulation. However, little is currently known about the molecular structure and stability of direct DNADNA interactions that are required for such functions. In nature, DNA helices minimize electrostatic repulsion between double helices in several ways. Within crystals, B-DNA forms either right-handed crossovers by groovebackbone interaction or left-handed crossovers by groovegroove juxtaposition. We evaluated the stability of such crossovers at various ionic concentrations using large-scale atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. Our results show that right-handed DNA crossovers are thermodynamically stable in solution in the presence of divalent cations. Attractive forces at short-range stabilize such crossover structures with inter-axial separation of helices less than 20 . Right-handed crossovers, however, dissociate swiftly in the presence of monovalent ions only. Surprisingly, left-handed crossovers, assembled by sequence-independent juxtaposition of the helices, appear unstable even at the highest concentration of Mg2+studied here. Our study provides new molecular insights into chiral association of DNA duplexes and highlights the unique role divalent cations play in differential stabilization of crossover structures. These results may serve as a rational basis to understand the role DNA crossovers play in biological processes.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Chemistry
Depositing User: Peter Varnai
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:39
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2019 01:47
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27221

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