Modeling high-resolution hydration patterns in correlation with DNA sequence and conformation

Michael Feig, B. Montgomery Pettitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Hydration around the DNA fragment d(C5T5)(A5G5) is presented from two molecular dynamics simulations of 10 and 12 ns total simulation time. The DNA has been simulated as a flexible molecule with both the CHARMM and AMBER force fields in explicit solvent including counterions and 0.8 M additional NaCl salt. From the previous analysis of the DNA structure B-DNA conformations were found with the AMBER force-field and A-DNA conformations with CHARMM parameters. High-resolution hydration patterns are compared between the two conformations and between C·G and T·A base-pairs from the homopolymeric parts of the simulated sequence. Crystallographic results from a statistical analysis of hydration sites around DNA crystal structures compare very well with the simulation results. Differences between the crystal sites and our data are explained by variations in conformation, sequence, and limitations in the resolution of water sites by crystal diffraction. Hydration layers are defined from radial distribution functions and compared with experimental results. Excellent agreement is found when the measured experimental quantities are compared with the equivalent distribution of water molecules in the first hydration shell. The number of water molecules bound to DNA was found smaller around T·A base-pairs and around A-DNA as compared to B-DNA. This is partially offset by a larger number of water molecules in hydrophobic contact with DNA around T·A base-pairs and around A-DNA. The numbers of water molecules in minor and major grooves have been correlated with helical roll, twist, and inclination angles. The data more fully explain the observed B→A transition at low humidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1095
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 5 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Crystallographic water molecules
  • Hydration shell
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Nucleic acids
  • Solvation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology


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