Generalized Manning Condensation Model Captures the RNA Ion Atmosphere


RNA is highly sensitive to the ionic environment and typically requires Mg2+ to form compact structures. There is a need for models capable of describing the ion atmosphere surrounding RNA with quantitative accuracy. We present a model of RNA electrostatics and apply it within coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulation. The model treats Mg2+ ions explicitly to account for ion-ion correlations neglected by mean-field theories. Since mean-field theories capture KCl well, it is treated implicitly by a generalized Manning counterion condensation model. The model extends Manning condensation to deal with arbitrary RNA conformations, nonlimiting KCl concentrations, and the ion inaccessible volume of RNA. The model is tested against experimental measurements of the excess Mg2+ associated with the RNA, Γ2+, because Γ2+ is directly related to the Mg2+-RNA interaction free energy. The excellent agreement with experiment demonstrates that the model captures the ionic dependence of the RNA free energy landscape.

Journal article

Hayes, Ryan L., Noel, Jeffrey K., Mandic, Ana, et al.. "Generalized Manning Condensation Model Captures the RNA Ion Atmosphere." Physical Review Letters, 114, no. 25 (2015) American Physical Society: 258105.

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