Structural Flexibility of DNA-RNA Hybrid Duplex: Stretching and Twist-Stretch Coupling.

Affiliation

College of Life Science, the Institute for Advanced Studies, State Key Laboratory of Virology, Hubei Key Laboratory of Cell Homeostasis, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

DNA-RNA hybrid (DRH) duplexes play essential roles during the replication of DNA and the reverse transcription of RNA viruses, and their flexibility is important for their biological functions. Recent experiments indicated that A-form RNA and B-form DNA have a strikingly different flexibility in stretching and twist-stretch coupling, and the structural flexibility of DRH duplex is of great interest, especially in stretching and twist-stretch coupling. In this work, we performed microsecond all-atom molecular dynamics simulations with new AMBER force fields to characterize the structural flexibility of DRH duplex in stretching and twist-stretch coupling. We have calculated all the helical parameters, stretch modulus, and twist-stretch coupling parameters for the DRH duplex. First, our analyses on structure suggest that the DRH duplex exhibits an intermediate conformation between A- and B-forms and closer to A-form, which can be attributed to the stronger rigidity of the RNA strand than the DNA strand. Second, our calculations show that the DRH duplex has the stretch modulus of 834 ± 34 pN and a very weak twist-stretch coupling. Our quantitative analyses indicate that, compared with DNA and RNA duplexes, the different flexibility of the DRH duplex in stretching and twist-stretch coupling is mainly attributed to its apparently different basepair inclination in the helical structure.

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