Curved DNA without A-A: Experimental estimation of all 16 DNA wedge angles

A. Bolshoy, P. Mcnamara, R. E. Harrington, E. N. Trifonov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The principal sequence feature responsible for intrinsic DNA curvature is generally assumed to be runs of adenines. However, according to the wedge model of DNA curvature, each dinucleotide step is associated with a characteristic deflection of the local helix axis. Thus, an important test of a more general view of sequence-dependent DNA curvature is whether sequence elements other than A-A cause the DNA axis to deflect. To address this question, we have applied the wedge model to a large body of experimental data. The axial path of DNA can be described at each step by three Eulerian angles: the helical twist, the deflection angle (wedge angle), and the direction of the deflection. Circularization and gel electrophoretic mobility data on 54 synthetic DNA fragments, both from other laboratories and from our own, were used to compare the theoretical predictions of the wedge model with experiment. By minimizing misfit between calculated and observed DNA curvature, we have found that the stacks AG/CT, CG/CG, GA/TC, and GC/GC, in addition to AA/TT, have large wedge values. We have also synthesized seven sequences without AA/TT elements but with these other wedges correctly phased to cause appreciable predicted curvature. All appear curved as demonstrated by anomalous gel mobilities. The full set of 16 roll and tilt wedge angles is estimated and, together with the known 10 helical twists, these allow prediction of the general sequence-dependent trajectory of the DNA axis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2312-2316
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Anomalous migration
  • DNA curvature
  • Eulerian angles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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