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MOLECULAR DYNAMICS SIMULATIONS OF SPORE PHOTOPRODUCT CONTAINING DNA SYSTEMS
Bacterial endospores have been a topic of research interest over the last several decades given their high resistance to ultraviolet (UV) damage. Unlike vegetative bacterial cells, which form cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD) and pyrimidine 6-4 pyrimidone photoproducts (6-4PPs) as the major product upon UV irradiation, endospore bacteria form a spore photoproduct (5-(R-thyminyl)-5,6-dihydrothymine or SP) as the major product. Vegetative bacteria cells are subject to regular cell activities and processes such as division and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) replication, which are prone to damage from UV exposure. However, in endospores, which have a largely anhydrous inner environment, the DNA remains dormant when bound to spore-specific small acid-soluble proteins (SASP) and dipicolinic acid, making spores highly resistant to radiation, heat, desiccation, and chemical harm. During spore germination, SP lesions in DNA are repaired by a distinctive repair enzyme, spore photoproduct lyase (SPL). In this thesis, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were carried out to (i) examine how the formation of the SP lesion in DNA affects the global and local structural properties of duplex DNA and (ii) study how this lesion is recognized and repaired in endospore. The first part of this work was focused on designing and developing a structurally and dynamically stable model for dinucleotide SP molecule (TpT), which was subsequently used as an SP patch incorporated into duplex DNA. Computationally, this requires modifications of the bond and nonbonded force field parameters. The stability of the patch and developed parameters was tested via solution-phase MD simulations for the SP lesion incorporated within the B-DNA dodecamer duplex (PDB 463B). The second part involved applying the new SP patch to simulate the crystallographic structure of the DNA oligomer containing SP lesions. Solution-phase MD simulations were performed for the SP-containing DNA oligomers (modeled based on PDB 4M94) and compared to the simulations of the native structure (PDB 4M95). Our analysis of the MD trajectories revealed a range of SP-induced structural and dynamical changes, including the weakened hydrogen bonds at the SP sites, increased DNA bending, and distinct conformational stability and distribution. In the third part of this thesis project, we carried out MD simulations of SP-containing DNA bound with SASPs to examine how the DNA interacts differently with SASP in the presence and absence of the SP lesion. The simulation results suggested decreased electrostatic and hydrogen bonding interactions between SASP and the damaged DNA at the SP site compared to the undamaged DNA-protein complex. In addition, decreased helicity percentage was observed in the SASPs that directly interact with the SP lesion. The last part of this this thesis work focused on the SP-dimer flipping mechanism, as the lesion is likely flipped out to its extrahelical state to be recognized and repaired by SPL. Using steered molecular dynamic (SMD) simulations and a pseudo-dihedral angle reaction coordinate, we obtained possible SP flipping pathways both in the presence and absence of SASP. Collectively, these simulation results lend new perspectives toward understanding the unique behavior of the SP lesion within the DNA duplex and the nucleoprotein complex. They also provide new insights into how the SP lesion is efficiently recognized and repaired during spore germination.
- Doctor of Philosophy