Modeling the vibrational couplings of nucleobases

Yaoyukun Jiang, Lu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Vibrational spectroscopy, in particular infrared spectroscopy, has been widely used to probe the three-dimensional structures and conformational dynamics of nucleic acids. As commonly used chromophores, the C=O and C=C stretch modes in the nucleobases exhibit distinct spectral features for different base pairing and stacking configurations. To elucidate the origin of their structural sensitivity, in this work, we develop transition charge coupling (TCC) models that allow one to efficiently calculate the interactions or couplings between the C=O and C=C chromophores based on the geometric arrangements of the nucleobases. To evaluate their performances, we apply the TCC models to DNA and RNA oligonucleotides with a variety of secondary and tertiary structures and demonstrate that the predicted couplings are in quantitative agreement with the reference values. We further elucidate how the interactions between the paired and stacked bases give rise to characteristic IR absorption peaks and show that the TCC models provide more reliable predictions of the coupling constants as compared to the transition dipole coupling scheme. The TCC models, together with our recently developed through-bond coupling constants and vibrational frequency maps, provide an effective theoretical strategy to model the vibrational Hamiltonian, and hence the vibrational spectra of nucleic acids in the base carbonyl stretch region directly from atomistic molecular simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number084114
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 28 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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