We have constructed the potential energy surfaces for all unique tetramers, hexamers and octamers in double helical DNA, as a function of the two principal degrees of freedom, slide and shift at the central step. From these potential energy maps, we have calculated a database of structural and flexibility properties for each of these sequences. These properties include: the values of each of the six step parameters (twist roll, tilt, rise, slide and shift), for each step of the sequence; flexibility measures for both decrease and increase in each property value from the minimum energy conformation for the central step; and the deviation from the path of a hypothetical straight octamer. In an analysis of structural change as a function of sequence length, we observe that almost all DNA tends to B-DNA and becomes less flexible. A more detailed analysis of octamer properties has allowed us to determine the structural preferences of particular sequence elements. GGC and GCC sequences tend to confer bistability, low stability and a predisposition to A-form DNA, whereas AA steps strongly prefer B-DNA and inhibit A-structures. There is no correlation between flexibility and intrinsic curvature, but bent DNA is less stable than straight. The most difficult deformation is undertwisting. The TA step stands out as the most flexible sequence element with respect to decreasing twist and increasing roll. However, as with the structural properties, this behavior is highly context-dependent and some TA steps are very straight.
- octamer structural parameters
- molecular biology
- DNA structure