Understanding the recognition mechanisms of Zα domain of human editing enzyme ADAR1 (hZαADAR1) and various Z-DNAs from molecular dynamics simulation

Qianqian Wang, Lanlan Li, Xiaoting Wang, Huanxiang Liu, Xiaojun Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The Z-DNA-binding domain of human double-stranded RNA adenosine deaminase I (hZαADAR1) can specifically recognize the left-handed Z-DNA which preferentially occurs at alternating purine-pyrimidine repeats, especially the CG-repeats. The interactions of hZαADAR1 and Z-DNAs in different sequence contexts can affect many important biological functions including gene regulation and chromatin remodeling. Therefore it is of great necessity to fully understand their recognition mechanisms. However, most existing studies are aimed at the standard CG-repeat Z-DNA rather than the non-CG-repeats, and whether the molecular basis of hZαADAR1 binding to various Z-DNAs are identical or not is still unclear on the atomic level. Here, based on the recently determined crystal structures of three representative non-CG-repeat Z-DNAs (d(CACGTG)2, d(CGTACG)2 and d(CGGCCG)2) in complex with hZαADAR1, 40 ns molecular dynamics simulation together with binding free energy calculation were performed for each system. For comparison, the standard CG-repeat Z-DNA (d(CGCGCG)2) complexed with hZαADAR1 was also simulated. The consistent results demonstrate that nonpolar interaction is the driving force during the protein-DNA binding process, and that polar interaction mainly from helix α3 also provides important contributions. Five common hot-spot residues were identified, namely Lys169, Lys170, Asn173, Arg174 and Tyr177. Hydrogen bond analysis coupled with surface charge distribution further reveal the interfacial information between hZαADAR1 and Z-DNA in detail. All of the analysis illustrate that four complexes share the common key features and the similar binding modes irrespective of Z-DNA sequences, suggesting that Z-DNA recognition by hZαADAR1 is conformation-specific rather than sequence-specific. Additionally, by analyzing the conformational changes of hZαADAR1, we found that the binding of Z-DNA could effectively stabilize hZαADAR1 protein. Our study can provide some valuable information for better understanding the binding mechanism between hZαADAR1 or even other Z-DNA-binding protein and Z-DNA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2500
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Molecular Modeling
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Binding free energy
  • Molecular dynamics simulation
  • Protein-DNA interaction
  • Recognition mechanism


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