Atomistic Picture for the Folding Pathway of a Hybrid-1 Type Human Telomeric DNA G-quadruplex


In this work we studied the folding process of the hybrid-1 type human telomeric DNA G-quadruplex with solvent and K(+) ions explicitly modeled. Enabled by the powerful bias-exchange metadynamics and large-scale conventional molecular dynamic simulations, the free energy landscape of this G-DNA was obtained for the first time and four folding intermediates were identified, including a triplex and a basically formed quadruplex. The simulations also provided atomistic pictures for the structures and cation binding patterns of the intermediates. The results showed that the structure formation and cation binding are cooperative and mutually supporting each other. The syn/anti reorientation dynamics of the intermediates was also investigated. It was found that the nucleotides usually take correct syn/anti configurations when they form native and stable hydrogen bonds with the others, while fluctuating between two configurations when they do not. Misfolded intermediates with wrong syn/anti configurations were observed in the early intermediates but not in the later ones. Based on the simulations, we also discussed the roles of the non-native interactions. Besides, the formation process of the parallel conformation in the first two G-repeats and the associated reversal loop were studied. Based on the above results, we proposed a folding pathway for the hybrid-1 type G-quadruplex with atomistic details, which is new and more complete compared with previous ones. The knowledge gained for this type of G-DNA may provide a general insight for the folding of the other G-quadruplexes.

PLoS Computational Biology