Effect of Methylation on Local Mechanics and Hydration Structure of DNA. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cytosine methylation affects mechanical properties of DNA and potentially alters the hydration fingerprint for recognition by proteins. The atomistic origin for these effects is not well understood, and we address this via all-atom molecular dynamics simulations. We find that the stiffness of the methylated dinucleotide step changes marginally, whereas the neighboring steps become stiffer. Stiffening is further enhanced for consecutively methylated steps, providing a mechanistic origin for the effect of hypermethylation. Steric interactions between the added methyl groups and the nonpolar groups of the neighboring nucleotides are responsible for the stiffening in most cases. By constructing hydration maps, we found that methylation also alters the surface hydration structure in distinct ways. Its resistance to deformation may contribute to the stiffening of DNA for deformational modes lacking steric interactions. These results highlight the sequence- and deformational-mode-dependent effects of cytosine methylation.

published proceedings

  • Biophys J

altmetric score

  • 31

author list (cited authors)

  • Teng, X., & Hwang, W.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Teng, Xiaojing||Hwang, Wonmuk

publication date

  • January 2018