Chemically accurate coarse graining of double-stranded DNA

Alexey Savelyev, Garegin A. Papoian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Coarse-grained (CG) modeling approaches are widely used to simulate many important biological processes involving DNA, including chromatin folding and genomic packaging. The bending propensity of a semiflexible DNA molecule critically influences these processes. However, existing CG DNA models do not retain a sufficient fidelity of the important local chain motions, whose propagation at larger length scales would generate correct DNA persistent lengths, in particular when the solution's ionic strength is widely varied. Here we report on a development of an accurate CG model for the double-stranded DNA chain, with explicit treatment of mobile ions, derived systematically from all-atom molecular dynamics simulations. Our model generates complex local motions of the DNA chain, similar to fully atomistic dynamics, leading also to a quantitative agreement of our simulation results with the experimental data on the dependence of the DNA persistence length on the solution ionic strength. We also predict a structural transition in a torsionally stressed DNA nanocircle as the buffer ionic strength is increased beyond a threshold value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20340-20345
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 23 2010


  • Chemical coarse graining
  • Explicit ion electrostatics
  • Molecular simulations
  • One-step renormalization
  • Polymer chain


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