A-like guanine-guanine stacking in the aqueous DNA duplex of d(GGGGCCCC)
We have used CD spectroscopy, NMR spectroscopy and unrestrained molecular dynamics to study conformational properties of a DNA duplex formed by the self-complementary octamer d(GGGGCCCC). Its unusual CD spectrum contains features indicating A-like stacking of half of the bases, whereas the other half stack in a B-like fashion. Unrestrained molecular dynamics simulations converged to a stable B-like double-helix of d(GGGGCCCC). However, the double-helix contained a central hole whose size was half of that occurring in structure A. In the canonical structure B, the hole does not exist at all because the base-pairs cross the double-helix centre. The cytosine bases were stacked in the duplex of B(GGGGCCCC) as in structure B, while stacking of the guanine bases displayed features characteristic for structure A. NMR spectroscopy revealed that the A-like guanine-guanine stacking was accompanied by an increased tendency of the deoxyribose rings attached to the guanine bases to be puckered in an A-like fashion. Otherwise, the duplex of d(GGGGCCCC) showed no clash, no bend and no other significant deviation from structure B. The present analysis demonstrates a remarkable propensity of the guanine runs to stack in an A-like fashion even within the B-DNA framework. This property explains why the oligo(dG). oligo(dC) tracts switch into structure A so easily. Secondly, this property may influence replication, because structure A is replicated more faithfully than structure B. Thirdly, the oligo(dG) runs might have played an important role in early evolution, when DNA took on functions that originally evolved on RNA. Fourthly, the present study extends the vocabulary of DNA secondary structures by the heteronomous duplex of d(GGGGCCCC) in which the B-like strand of oligo(dC) is bound to the A-like strand of oligo(dG). (C) 2001 Academic Press.