A theory and graphical presentation for the analysis of helix structure and deformations in oligonucleotides is presented. The parameters \"persistence\" and \"flexibility\" as defined in the configurational statistics of polymers of infinite length are reformulated at the oligonucleotide level in an extension of J. A. Schellman\&$\#$39;s method [(1974) Biopolymers, Vol. 17, pp. 217-226], and used as a basis for a systematic \"Persistence Analysis\" of the helix deformation properties for all possible subsequences in the structure. The basis for the analysis is a set of link vectors referenced to individual base pairs, and is limited to sequences exhibiting only perturbed rod-like behavior, i.e., below the threshold for supercoiling. The present application of the method is concerned with a physical model for the angular component of bending, so the link vectors are defined as the unit components of a global helix axis obtained by the procedure \"Curves\" of R. Lavery and H. Sklenar [(1988) J. Biomol. Struct. Dynam., Vol. 6, pp. 63-91; (1989) ibid., Vol. 6, pp. 655-667]. A discussion of the relationship between global bending and relative orientation of base pairs is provided. Our approach is illustrated by analysis of some model oligonucleotide structures with intrinsic kinks, the crystal structure of the dodecamer d(CGCGAATTCGCG)2, and the results of two molecular dynamics simulations on this dodecamer using two variations of the GROMOS force field. The results indicate that essentially all aspects of curvature in short oligonucleotides can be determined, such as the position and orientation of each bend, the sharpness or smoothness, and the location and linearity of subsequences. In the case of molecular dynamics simulations, where a Boltzmann ensemble of structures is analyzed, the spatial extent of the deformations (flexibility) is also considered.

}, doi = {10.1002/bip.360330303}, author = {Chantal Pr{\'e}vost and Louise-May, S and Ravishanker, G and Richard Lavery and Beveridge, D L} }