Hydrogen-bonded nucleic acid base pairs containing unusual base tautomers: complete basis set calculations at the MP2 and CCSD(T) levels

Jaroslav Rejnek, Pavel Hobza
Journal of Physical Chemistry. B 2007 January 25, 111 (3): 641-5
The total interaction energies of altogether 15 hydrogen-bonded nucleic acid base pairs containing unusual base tautomers were calculated. The geometry properties of all selected adenine-thymine and guanine-cytosine hydrogen-bonded base pairs enable their incorporation into DNA. Unusual base pairing patterns were compared with Watson-Crick H-bonded structures of the adenine-thymine and guanine-cytosine pairs. The complete basis set (CBS) limit of the MP2 interaction energy and the CCSD(T) correction term, determined as the difference between the CCSD(T) and MP2 interaction energies, was evaluated. Extrapolation to the MP2 CBS limit was done using the aug-cc-pVDZ and aug-cc-pVTZ results, and the CCSD(T) correction term was determined with the 6-31G*(0.25) basis set. Final interaction energies were corrected while taking into account both tautomeric penalization determined at the CBS level and solvation/desolvation free energies. The situation for the adenine-thymine pairs is straightforward, and tautomeric pairs are significantly less stable than the Watson-Crick pair consisting of the canonical forms. In the case of the guanine-cytosine pair, the Watson-Crick structure made by canonical forms is again the most stable. The other two structures are, however, energetically rather similar (by 5 and 6 kcal/mol), which provides a very small but non-negligible chance of detecting these structures in the DNA double helix (1:5000). Due to the fact that DNA bases and base pairs incorporated into DNA are solvated less favorably than in isolated systems, this probability represents the very upper limit. The results clearly show how precisely the canonical building blocks of DNA molecules were chosen and how well their stability is maintained.

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