Any published work which has made use of 3DNA should cite at least one of the following papers:

The current list of journal articles citing 3DNA can be found in Google scholar.

In this section, I will occasionally highlight papers that employ 3DNA in novel or significant ways. If you have a story to share, please let me know.


First citation to the DSSR NAR paper in JMB

Recently, I noticed via Google Scholar the first citation to the paper DSSR, an integrated software tool for dissecting the spatial structure of RNA, recently published in Nucleic Acids Research (NAR). The citation is from Srinivas Somarowthu, in a review article titled Progress and current challenges in modeling large RNAs in the Journal of Molecular Biology. The JMB review article is concise, and overall a nice reading.

Specifically, in the section “Model Evaluation and Refinement”, DSSR is listed along with RNAView and MC-Annotate for the characterization of the secondary from 3D atomic coordinates, as below:

After building a model, it is essential to evaluate the quality, find any errors and refine the accordingly. First, it is important to make sure that all the base-pairs and the overall secondary structure is maintained correctly in the model. Tools such as RNAview [82], MC-Annotate [83], and DSSR [84] can calculate the secondary structure from a given 3D structure and thereby allow identification of problematic base-pairs. Recently, Antczak et al [85], developed a web server, RNApdbee, which integrates RNAview, MC-Annotate and DSSR, and extracts not only secondary structures but also kissing-loops and pseudoknots from a target tertiary model. Problematic base pairs can be fixed or rebuilt using interactive tools such as S2S/ASSEMBLE [45].

I am glad to see the first citation to the 2015 DSSR paper per se shortly after its publication in NAR. Looking forward, I can only expect more DSSR citations in diverse fields related to RNA structures.



Citation statistics to 3DNA publications

On October 29, 2015, I performed a survey of citations to the following three 3DNA papers, using the Web of Science. The total number of citations are: NAR03 (787) + NP08 (184) + NAR09 (78) = 1049, spanning a diverse set of 191 journals in biology, chemistry, and material sciences. On the same date, Google Scholar reported 1360 citations for the same three papers.

  1. [NAR03] Lu, Xiang‐Jun, and Wilma K. Olson. “3DNA: a software package for the analysis, rebuilding and visualization of three‐dimensional nucleic acid structures.” Nucleic acids research 31.17 (2003): 5108-5121.
  2. [NP08] Lu, Xiang-Jun, and Wilma K. Olson. “3DNA: a versatile, integrated software system for the analysis, rebuilding and visualization of three-dimensional nucleic-acid structures.” Nature protocols 3.7 (2008): 1213-1227.
  3. [NAR09] Zheng, Guohui, Xiang-Jun Lu, and Wilma K. Olson. “Web 3DNA—a web server for the analysis, reconstruction, and visualization of three-dimensional nucleic-acid structures.” Nucleic acids research 37.suppl 2 (2009): W240-W246.

Among the 1049 citations in 191 journals, 694 citations (66%) are from the following 24 journals (~13%). The remaining 355 citations are from 167 other journals, including Cell (5 times), Science (2), Nature (3) and six additional Nature Publishing Group sub-journals (17).

1 Nucleic Acids Res (167)
2 J Phys Chem B (64)
3 Biochemistry (45)
4 J Am Chem Soc (45)
5 J Mol Biol (41)
6 Phys Chem Chem Phys (28)
7 Biophys J (25)
8 J Biol Chem (23)
9 PLoS One (23)
10 Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr (22)
11 J Chem Theory Comput (22)
12 Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (22)
13 Bioinformatics (18)
14 Biopolymers (18)
15 J Biomol Struct Dyn (18)
16 J Chem Phys (18)
17 J Phys Chem A (16)
18 Structure (13)
19 RNA (12)
20 Biochem Biophys Res Commun (11)
21 Chem Res Toxicol (11)
22 J Comput Chem (11)
23 J Mol Model (11)
24 Nat Struct Mol Biol (10)

It is worth noting that while the Web of Science citation report is comprehensive, it is certainly not complete. In particular, citations in the online methods section seem not to be covered. For example, two 3DNA citations (on the DSSR program) in “Materials and Methods” (the Supplementary Materials) of two Science articles by the Ramakrishnan lab are missing from the list. Specifically, the Science papers employed DSSR for the characterization of RNA secondary structural features in crystal structures of the large ribosomal subunit and the whole ribosome of human mitochondria.

For those why are interested in knowing the details, click the link for the full reports of 3DNA citations. In the file, the citations are sorted in two ways: by citation numbers per journal, and by journal names.



The 3DNA mutate_bases program is cited in Nature

It was a nice surprise to notice the following 3DNA citation in a Nature article, titled Selective small-molecule inhibition of an RNA structural element (doi:10.1038/nature15542). Moreover, the work came from Merck Research Laboratories, reporting a novel selective chemical modulator (ribocil) to repress riboswitch-mediated ribB gene expression and inhibit bacterial cell growth.

Homology modelling. A homology model of the E. coli FMN aptamer was constructed using program mutate_bases53 of the 3DNA package using the F. nucleatum impX riboswitch aptamer X-ray structure as the template and the FMN aptamer alignment of E. coli, F. nucleatum, P. aeruginosa and A. baumannii (Extended Data Fig. 5). All nucleotide insertions in the E. coli sequence were removed in the model (Extended Data Fig. 5). There are 34 base changes among the 111 nucleotides modelled. Base pairing when present remains consistent. Energy minimization at A92 was performed to avoid VDW clashes using Macromodel (Schrodinger, LLC).

In retrospect, the mutate_bases program was created in response to repeated requests from 3DNA users, initially mostly for modeling DNA-protein complexes. The program was first coded as a Perl script, and later on rewritten in ANSI C for efficiency. Since v2.1, mutate_bases has become an essential component of 3DNA, on a par with find_pair, analyze, rebuild and fiber etc. As I noted in the post documenting the program

Overall, mutate_bases has been designed to solve the in silico base mutation problem in a practical sense: robust and efficient, getting its job done and then out of the way. The program can have many possible applications: in addition to perform base-pair mutations in DNA-protein complexes, it should also prove handy in RNA modeling and in providing initial structures for QM/MM/MD energy calculations, and in DNA/RNA modeling studies.

The Merck Nature paper is the first time ever that the 3DNA mutate_bases program has been put in the spotlight. Hopefully more such applications/citations will appear in the future as the community begin to appreciate the value of this little gem.



The do_x3dna paper by Kumar and Grubmuller in Bioinformatics

Today, I noticed the paper do_x3dna: A tool to analyze structural fluctuations of dsDNA or dsRNA from molecular dynamics simulations by Kumar and Grubmuller in Bioinformatics (advance access published April 2, 2015). The summary reads:

The do_x3dna package has been developed to analyze the structural fluctuations of DNA or RNA during molecular dynamics simulations. It extends the capability of the 3DNA package to GROMACS MD trajectories and includes new methods to calculate the global-helical axis of DNA and bending fluctuations during simulations. The package also includes a Python module dnaMD to perform and visualize statistical analyses of complex data obtained from the trajectories.

I am aware of the do_x3dna package through the 3DNA Forum, and wrote a post DNA/RNA molecular dynamics trajectory analysis with do_x3dna on September 3, 2014. With this formal publication, the do_x3dna package will be more widely used, and 3DNA is likely to gain more recognition in the increasing relevant MD field.



Three citations to 3DNA in the November 2013-41(21) issue of NAR

While browsing through the November 2013-41(21) issue of NAR, I am please to find the following three citations to 3DNA, all under the Section of ‘Structural Biology’.

Such citations illustrate the prominent status of 3DNA for DNA structural analysis. I firmly believe that DSSR will make 3DNA a top player for RNA structural analysis in the not-too-distant future.



Citations to the 3DNA homepage

Recently I came across the following two direct citations to the 3DNA homepage   3DNA: Suite of software programs for the analysis, rebuilding, and visualization of three-dimensional nucleic acid structures.

  • The review article Molecular Modeling of Nucleic Acid Structure by Galindo-Murillo et al. in Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry in the section of “Model Building and Analysis Tools and Nucleic Acid Nomenclature” under INTERNET RESOURCES:
The 3DNA program for calculating helicoidal parameters in a consistent manner using a local helical axis definition.

As time goes by, I have every reason to believe that the website will become more noticeable in the literature. If you notice other such citations, please leave a comment.



Application of the mutate_bases program in inferring statistical protein-DNA potentials

Thanks to Google scholar, I recently become aware of the article by Mohammed AlQuraishi & Harley McAdams (2012) Three enhancements to the inference of statistical protein-DNA potentials” in Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics. Reading through the text, I like it quite a bit. The abstract summarize the work well:

The energetics of protein-DNA interactions are often modeled using so-called statistical potentials, that is, energy models derived from the atomic structures of protein-DNA complexes. Many statistical protein-DNA potentials based on differing theoretical assumptions have been investigated, but little attention has been paid to the types of data and the parameter estimation process used in deriving the statistical potentials. We describe three enhancements to statistical potential inference that significantly improve the accuracy of predicted protein-DNA interactions: (i) incorporation of binding energy data of protein-DNA complexes, in conjunction with their X-ray crystal structures, (ii) use of spatially-aware parameter fitting, and (iii) use of ensemble-based parameter fitting. We apply these enhancements to three widely-used statistical potentials and use the resulting enhanced potentials in a structure-based prediction of the DNA binding sites of proteins. These enhancements are directly applicable to all statistical potentials used in protein-DNA modeling, and we show that they can improve the accuracy of predicted DNA binding sites by up to 21%.

I’m glad to find that the 3DNA mutate_bases program was used in deriving the statistical potentials of protein-DNA interactions:

The relative binding affinity of a protein to two different DNA sequences can be evaluated by computing the binding energy of the protein to those two sequences. This is done by mutating the DNA sequence in silico while keeping the protein fixed. We used the 3DNA software package for mutating DNA23,24, which maintains the backbone atoms of the DNA molecule but replaces the basepair atoms in a way that is consistent with the backbone orientation of the DNA.

For each base position, in silicon structural mutants are generated using 3DNA23,24 to mutate the basepair to include all four possibilities.

This is exactly one of the use cases I have in mind while creating the program:

Overall, mutate_bases has been designed to solve the in silica base mutation problem in a practical sense: robust and efficient, getting its job done and then out of the way. The program can have many possible applications: in addition to perform base-pair mutations in DNA-protein complexes, it should also prove handy in RNA modeling and in providing initial structures for QM/MM/MD energy calculations, and in DNA/RNA modeling studies.

With the recent refinement to allow for 3-letter nucleotide name in the standard base-reference frame file, mutate_bases now makes it exceedingly easy to mutate cytosine to 5-methylcytosine.

As more people get to know this 3DNA functionality, I am confident that mutate_bases will be more widely used.



Quantification of base-stacking interactions using overlap area

Base-stacking interactions stabilize nucleic acid structures. Many ways exist to account for such interactions, including quantum chemical calculations (see for example the review by Sponer et al. [2008] on Nature and magnitude of aromatic stacking of nucleic acid bases.). In 3DNA, base-stacking interactions are assessed from planar projections of the ring and exocyclic atoms in consecutive bases or base pairs; the larger the overlap area, the stronger the stacking interactions, and vice versa.

Over the years, I’ve seen a few publications taking advantage of this 3DNA parameter. Here are two recent ones:

To analyze the role of the sequence regularity for the double-helical structure, we calculated the overall overlapping of base pairs (stacking) at every step of the two duplexes of 20mer pG(CUG)6C and the duplex of 19mer pGG(CGG)3(CUG)2CC using the program 3DNA (Lu & Olson, 2003).

Basepair overlap values are calculated by 3DNA software.35

Hopefully, more 3DNA users would notice this ‘little’ feature and make good use of it.



FRETmatrix: a methodological platform for the simulation and analysis of FRET in nucleic acids

In the ‘Advance Access’ section of Nucleic Acids Research, published on September 12, 2012 (DOI: 10.1093/nar/gks856), I came across the paper FRETmatrix: a general methodology for the simulation and analysis of FRET in nucleic acids by Søren Preus et al.. In this work, the authors developed a methodological platform (implemented in the Matlab package FRETmatrix’) to simulate the base-base FRET in order to elucidate the structure and dynamics of nucleic acids.

Reading through the text, I am pleased to find that the authors take advantage of the matrix-based Calladine and El Hassen Scheme (CEHS) for ‘building nucleic acid geometrical models’, and kindly cite SCHNArP, 3DNA, and the standard base-reference frame paper. They provide a succinct description of the model building process, and also note the connection between CEHS and SCHNArP. From the very beginning, I appreciated the elegance of the CEHS method — it is simple, mathematical rigorous, and generally applicable for quantifying the relative position and orientation between any two rigid bodies. SCHNAaP/SCHNArP implements the analysis/rebuilding components of CEHS in an expanded form, and CEHS further serves as a corner stone of 3DNA.

Another point worth noting is Figure 3 (see below) where the authors present (a–c) Representative examples of output geometries produced by FRETmatrix (right) along with the block representation of the corresponding structures produced by 3DNA (28) (left). To the best of my memory, this is one of the very few times where 3DNA’s blocview functionality is explicitly cited.

geometrical model building combined with FRET simulations in three model structures



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