Structural equilibrium of DNA represented with different force fields

Michael Feig, B. Montgomery Pettitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


We have recently indicated preliminary evidence of different equilibrium average structures with the CHARMM and AMBER force fields in explicit solvent molecular dynamics simulations on the DNA duplex d(C5T5) · d(A5G5) (Feig, M. and B. M. Pettitt, 1997, Experiment vs. Force fields: DNA conformation from molecular dynamics simulations. J. Phys. Chem. B. 101:7361- 7363). This paper presents a detailed comparison of DNA structure and dynamics for both force fields from extended simulation times of 10 ns each. Average structures display an A-DNA base geometry with the CHARMM force field and a base geometry that is intermediate between A- and B-DNA with the AMBER force field. The backbone assumes B form on both strands with the AMBER force field, while the CHARMM force field produces heterogeneous structures with the purine strand in A form and the pyrimidine strand in dynamical equilibrium between A and B conformations. The results compare well with experimental data for the cytosine/guanine part but fail to fully reproduce an overall B conformation in the thymine/adenine tract expected from crystallographic data, particularly with the CHARMM force field. Fluctuations between A and B conformations are observed on the nanosecond time scale in both simulations, particularly with the AMBER force field. Different dynamical behavior during the first 4 ns indicates that convergence times of several nanoseconds are necessary to fully establish a dynamical equilibrium in all structural quantities on the time scale of the simulations presented here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-149
Number of pages16
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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