All-atom molecular dynamics reveals mechanism of zinc complexation with therapeutic F10

Academic Article


  • Advancing the use of therapeutic nucleic acids requires understanding the chemical and structural properties that allow these polymers to promote the death of malignant cells. Here we explore Zn2+ complexation by the fluoropyrimidine polymer F10, which has strong activities in multiple preclinical models of cancer. Delivery of fluoropyrimidine FdUMP in the 10-residue polymer F10 rather than the nucleobase (5-fluorouracil) allows consideration of metal ion binding effects on drug delivery. The differences in metal ion interactions with fluoropyrimidine compared to normal DNA results in conformation changes that affect protein binding, cell uptake, and codelivery of metals such as zinc, and the cytoxicity thereof. Microsecond-time-scale, all-atom simulations of F10 predict that zinc selectively stabilizes the polymer via interactions with backbone phosphate groups and suggest a mechanism of complexation for the zinc-base interactions shown in previous experimental work. The positive zinc ions are attracted to the negatively charged phosphate groups. Once the Zn2+ ions are near F10, they cause the base's N3 nitrogen to deprotonate. Subsequently, magnesium atoms displace zinc from their interactions with phosphate, freeing the zinc ions to interact with the FdU bases by forming weak interactions with the O4 oxygen and the fluorine attached to C5. These interactions of magnesium with phosphate groups and zinc with nucleobases agree with previous experimental results and are seen in MD simulations only when magnesium is introduced after N3 deprotonation, indicating a specific order of metal binding events. Additionally, we predict interactions between zinc and F10's O2 atoms, which were not previously observed. By comparison to 10mers of polyU and polydT, we also predict that the presence of fluorine increases the binding affinity of zinc to F10 relative to analogous strands of RNA and DNA consisting of only native nucleotides.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Melvin RL; Gmeiner WH; Salsbury FR
  • Start Page

  • 10269
  • End Page

  • 10279
  • Volume

  • 120
  • Issue

  • 39