Positively and Negatively Hydrated Counterions in Molecular Dynamics Simulations of DNA Double Helix
Keywords:DNA, counterion, hydration, residence time, molecular dynamics
The DNA double helix is a polyanionic macromolecule that is neutralized in water solutions by metal ions (counterions). The property of counterions to stabilize the water network (positive hydration) or to make it friable (negative hydration) is important in terms of the physical mechanisms of stabilization of the DNA double helix. In the present research, the effects of positive hydration of Na+ counterions and negative hydration of K+ and Cs+ counterions incorporated into the hydration shell of the DNA double helix have been studied using molecular dynamics simulations. The results have shown that the dynamics of the hydration shell of counterions depends on the region of the double helix: minor groove, major groove, and outside the macromolecule. The longest average residence time has been observed for water molecules contacting with the counterions localized in the minor groove of the double helix (about 50 ps for Na+ and lower than 10 ps for K+ and Cs+). The estimated potentials of the mean force for the hydration shells of counterions show that the water molecules are constrained too strongly, and the effect of negative hydration for K+ and Cs+ counterions has not been observed in the simulations. The analysis has shown that the effects of counterion hydration can be described more accurately with water models having lower dipole moments.
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