Coupling of conformation and CPD damage in nucleosomal DNA

Asmar Nayis, Korbinian Liebl, Martin Zacharias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


UV-light can cause photodimerization and hence damages in DNA. Most frequent are cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer (CPD) damages, which predominantly form at TpT (thymine-thymine) steps. It is well known that CPD damage probability is different for single-stranded or double stranded DNA and depends on the sequence context. However, DNA deformation due to packing in nucleosomes can also influence CPD formation. Quantum mechanical calculations and Molecular Dynamics simulations indicate little CPD damage probability for DNA's equilibrium structure. We find that DNA needs to be deformed in a specific way to allow the HOMO → LUMO transition required for CPD damage formation. The simulation studies further show that the periodic CPD damage patterns measured in chromosomes and nucleosomes can be directly explained by the periodic deformation pattern of the DNA in the nucleosome complex. It supports previous findings on characteristic deformation patterns found in experimental nucleosome structures that relate to CPD damage formation. The result may have important implications for our understanding of UV-induced DNA mutations in human cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107050
JournalBiophysical Chemistry
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA damage
  • DNA deformation
  • DNA fine structure
  • DNA packing
  • DNA repair
  • UV-induced damage


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