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Structure of aB-DNA dodecamer:III. Geometry of hydration

Journal of Molecular Biology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0022-2836(81)90009-7


Abstract The dodecamer d(CpGpCpGpApApTpTpCpGpCpG) or C-G-C-G-A-A-T-T-C-G-C-G crystallizes as slightly more than one full turn of right-handed B-DNA. It is surrounded in the crystal by one bound spermine molecule and 72 ordered water molecules, most of which associate with polar N and O atoms at the exposed edges of base-pairs. Hydration within the major groove is principally confined to a monolayer of water molecules associated with exposed N and O groups on the bases, with most association being monodentate. Waters hydrating backbone phosphate oxygens tend not to be ordered, except where they are immobilized by 5-methyl groups from nearby thymines. In contrast, the minor groove is hydrated in an extensive and regular manner, with a zigzag “spine” of first- and second-shell hydration along the floor of the groove serving as a foundation for less-regular outer shells extending beyond the radius of the phosphate backbone. This spine network bridges purine N-3 and pyrimidine O-2 atoms in adjacent base-pairs. It is particularly regular in the A-A-T-T center, and is disrupted at the C-G-C-G ends, in part by the presence of the N-2 amino groups on guanine residues. The minor groove hydration spine may be responsible for the stability of the B form of polymers containing only A · T and I · C base-pairs, and its disruption may explain the ease of transition to the A form of polymers with G · C pairs.

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