Approximate details of the spatial configuration of the ordered single-stranded poly(rA) molecule in dilute solution have been obtained in a combined theoretical analysis of base stacking and chain flexibility. Only those regularly repeating structures which fulfill the criterion of conformational flexibility (based upon all available experimental and theoretical evidence of preferred bond rotations) and which also exhibit the right-handed base stacking pattern observed in nmr investigations of poly(rA) are deemed suitable single-stranded helices. In addition, the helical geometry of the stacked structures is required to be consistent with the experimentally observed dimensions of both completely ordered and partially ordered poly(rA) chains. Only a single category of poly(rA) helices (very similar in all conformational details to the individual chains of the poly(rA) double-stranded X-ray structure) is thus obtained. Other conformationally feasible polynucleotide helices characterized simply by a parallel and overlapping base stacking arrangement are also discussed.
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