Sequence-specific transitions of the torsion angle gamma change the polar-hydrophobic profile of the DNA grooves: implication for indirect protein-DNA recognition.J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2014; 32(10):1670-85.JB
Variations of the shape and polarity of the DNA grooves caused by changes of the DNA conformation play an important role in the DNA readout. Despite the fact that non-canonical trans and gauche- conformations of the DNA backbone angle γ (O5'-C5'-C4'-C3') are frequently found in the DNA crystal structures, their possible role in the DNA recognition has not been studied systematically. In order to fill in this gap, we analyze the available high-resolution crystal structures of the naked and complexed DNA. The analysis shows that the non-canonical γ angle conformations are present both in the naked and bound DNA, more often in the bound vs. naked DNA, and in the nucleotides with the A-like vs. the B-like sugar pucker. The alternative angle γ torsions are more frequently observed in the purines with the A-like sugar pucker and in the pyrimidines with the B-like sugar conformation. The minor groove of the nucleotides with non-canonical γ angle conformation is more polar, while the major groove is more hydrophobic than in the nucleotides with the classical γ torsions due to variations in exposure of the polar and hydrophobic groups of the DNA backbone. The propensity of the nucleotides with different γ angle conformations to participate in the protein-nucleic acid contacts in the minor and major grooves is connected with their sugar pucker and sequence-specific. Our findings imply that the angle γ transitions contribute to the process of the protein-DNA recognition due to modification of the polar/hydrophobic profile of the DNA grooves.