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Base pairing and base mis-pairing in nucleic acidsIn recent years we have learned that DNA is conformationally active. It can exist in a number of different stable conformations including both right-handed and left-handed forms. Using single crystal X-ray diffraction analysis we are able to discover not only additional conformations of the nucleic acids but also different types of hydrogen bonded base-base interactions. Although Watson-Crick base pairings are the predominant type of interaction in double helical DNA, they are not the only types. Recently, we have been able to examine mismatching of guanine-thymine base pairs in left-handed Z-DNA at atomic resolution (1A). A minimum amount of distortion of the sugar phosphate backbone is found in the G x T pairing in which the bases are held together by two hydrogen bonds in the wobble pairing interaction. Because of the high resolution of the analysis we can visualize water molecules which fill in to accommodate the other hydrogen bonding positions in the bases which are not used in the base-base interactions. Studies on other DNA oligomers have revealed that other types of non-Watson-Crick hydrogen bonding interactions can occur. In the structure of a DNA octamer with the sequence d(GCGTACGC) complexed to an antibiotic triostin A, it was found that the two central AT base pairs are held together by Hoogsteen rather than Watson-Crick base pairs. Similarly, the G x C base pairs at the ends are also Hoogsteen rather than Watson-Crick pairing. Hoogsteen base pairs make a modified helix which is distinct from the Watson-Crick double helix.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Wang, A. H. J. (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Rich, A. (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 12, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 1986
Publication Information
Publication: NASA, Washington Second Symposium on Chemical Evolution and the Origin and Evolution of Life
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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