Water-soluble π-conjugated polymers are increasingly considered for DNA biosensing. However, the conformational rearrangement, supramolecular organization and dynamics upon interaction with DNA have been overlooked, which prevents the rational design of such detection tools. To elucidate the binding of a cationic polythiophene (CPT) to DNA with atomistic resolution, we performed molecular simulations of their supramolecular assembly. Comparison of replicated simulations show a multiplicity of CPT binding geometries that contribute to the wrapping of CPT around DNA. The different binding geometries are stabilized by both electrostatic interactions between CPT lateral cations and DNA phosphodiesters and van der Waals interactions between the CPT backbone and the DNA grooves. Simulated circular dichroism (CD) spectra show that the induced CD signal stems from a conserved geometrical feature across the replicated simulations, i. e. the presence of segments of syn configurations between thiophene units along the CPT chain. At the macromolecular scale, we inspected the different shapes related to the CPT binding modes around the DNA through symmetry metrics. Altogether, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, model Hamiltonian calculations of the CD spectra, and symmetry indices provide insights into the origin of induced chirality from the atomic to the macromolecular scale. Our multidisciplinary approach points out the hierarchical aspect of CPT chiral organization induced by DNA.
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