Influence of ribose 2′‐O‐methylation on GpC conformation by classical potential energy calculations

Steven D. Stellman, Suse B. Broyde, Roger M. Wartell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Potential energy calculations were employed to examine the effect of ribose 2′‐O‐methylation on the conformation of GpC. Minimum energy conformations and allowed conformational regions were calculated for 2′MeGpC and Gp2′MeC. The two lowest energy conformations of 2′MeGpC and Gp2′MeC are similar to those of GpC itself. The helical RNA conformation (sugar pucker‐C(3′)‐endo, ω′ and ω,gg, bases‐anti) is the global minimum, and a helix‐reversing conformation with ω′, ω in the vicinity of 20°, 80° is next in energy. However, subtle differences between the three molecules are noted. When the substitution is on the 5′ ribose (Gp2′MeC), the energy of the helical conformation is less than that of GpC, due to favorable interactions of the added methyl group. When the substitution is at the 3′ ribose (2′MeGpC) these stabilizing interactions are outweighed by steric restrictions, and the helical conformation is of higher energy than for GpC. Furthermore, the statistical weight of the 2′MeGpC g g helical region is substantially less than the corresponding weight for Gp2′MeC. In addition, 2′MeGpC′s methoxy group is conformationally restricted to a narrow range centered at 76°. This group has a broadly allowed region between 50 and 175° in Gp2′MeC. These differences occur because the appended methyl group in 2′MeGpC is located in the interior of the helix cylinder, as it would be in polynucleotide, while it hangs unimpeded in Gp2′MeC. These findings suggest that 2′‐O‐methylation has both stabilizing and destabilizing influences on the helical conformation of RNA. For 2′MeGpC the destabilizing steric hindrance imposed by the nature of the guanine base dominates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1951-1964
Number of pages14
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Organic Chemistry


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