Accurate interaction energies of hydrogen-bonded nucleic acid base pairs
Hydrogen-bonded nucleic acids base pairs substantially contribute to the structure and stability of nucleic acids. The study presents reference ab initio structures and interaction energies of selected base pairs with binding energies ranging from -5 to -47 kcal/mol. The molecular structures are obtained using the RI-MP2 (resolution of identity MP2) method with extended cc-pVTZ basis set of atomic orbitals. The RI-MP2 method provides results essentially identical with the standard MP2 method. The interaction energies are calculated using the Complete Basis Set (CBS) extrapolation at the RI-MP2 level. For some base pairs, Coupled-Cluster corrections with inclusion of noniterative triple contributions (CCSD(T)) are given. The calculations are compared with selected medium quality methods. The PW91 DFT functional with the 6-31G(**) basis set matches well the RI-MP2/CBS absolute interaction energies and reproduces the relative values of base pairing energies with a maximum relative error of 2.6 kcal/mol when applied with Becke3LYP-optimized geometries. The Becke3LYP DFT functional underestimates the interaction energies by few kcal/mol with relative error of 2.2 kcal/mol. Very good performance of nonpolarizable Cornell et al. force field is confirmed and this indirectly supports the view that H-bonded base pairs are primarily stabilized by electrostatic interactions.