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    The helical structures of DNA and RNA were originally revealed by experimental data. Likewise, the development of programs for modeling these natural polymers was guided by known structures. These nucleic acid polymers represent only two members of a potentially vast class of polymers with similar structural features, but that differ from DNA and RNA in the backbone or nucleobases. Xeno nucleic acids (XNAs) incorporate alternative backbones that affect the conformational, chemical, and thermodynamic properties of XNAs. Given the vast chemical space of possible XNAs, computational modeling of alternative nucleic acids can accelerate the search for plausible nucleic acid analogs and guide their rational design. Additionally, a tool for the modeling of nucleic acids could help reveal what nucleic acid polymers may have existed before RNA in the early evolution of life. To aid the development of novel XNA polymers and the search for possible pre-RNA candidates, this article presents the proto-Nucleic Acid Builder (, an open-source program for modeling nucleic acid analogs with alternative backbones and nucleobases. The torsion-driven conformation search procedure implemented here predicts structures with good accuracy compared to experimental structures, and correctly demonstrates the correlation between the helical structure and the backbone conformation in DNA and RNA. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


    Asem Alenaizan, Joshua L Barnett, Nicholas V Hud, C David Sherrill, Anton S Petrov. The proto-Nucleic Acid Builder: a software tool for constructing nucleic acid analogs. Nucleic acids research. 2020 Dec 09;49(1):79-89

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    PMID: 33300028

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