Molecular dynamics simulations and their application to four-stranded DNA
This review provides a critical assessment of the advantages and limitations of modeling methods available for guanine quadruplex (G-DNA) molecules. We characterize the relations of simulations to the experimental techniques and explain the actual meaning and significance of the results. The following aspects are discussed: pair-additive approximation of the empirical force fields, sampling limitations stemming from the simulation time and accuracy of description of base stacking, H-bonding, sugar-phosphate backbone and ions by force fields. Several methodological approaches complementing the classical explicit solvent molecular dynamics simulations are commented on, including enhanced sampling methods, continuum solvent methods, free energy calculations and gas phase simulations. The successes and pitfalls of recent simulation studies of G-DNA are demonstrated on selected results, including studies of cation interactions and dynamics of G-DNA stems, studies of base substitutions (inosine, thioguanine and mixed tetrads), analysis of possible kinetic intermediates in folding pathway of a G-DNA stem and analysis of loop regions of G-DNA molecules. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.