Noncanonical base pairs in RNA have strong structural and functional implications but are currently not considered for secondary structure predictions. We present results of comparative ab initio studies of stabilities and interaction energies for the three standard and 24 selected unusual RNA base pairs reported in the literature. Hydrogen added models of isolated base pairs, with heavy atoms frozen in their ‘away from equilibrium’ geometries, built from coordinates extracted from NDB, were geometry optimized using HF/6-31G** basis set, both before and after unfreezing the heavy atoms. Interaction energies, including BSSE and deformation energy corrections, were calculated, compared with respective single point MP2 energies, and correlated with occurrence frequencies and with types and geometries of hydrogen bonding interactions. Systems having two or more N-H…O/N hydrogen bonds had reasonable interaction energies which correlated well with respective occurrence frequencies and highlighted the possibility of some of them playing important roles in improved secondary structure prediction methods. Several of the remaining base pairs with one N-H…O/N and/or one C-H…O/N interactions respectively, had poor interaction energies and negligible occurrences. High geometry variations on optimization of some of these were suggestive of their conformational switch like characteristics.
Volume 44 | Issue 3
Click here for Editorial Note on CAP Mode