Volume 105, Number 4, February 2014
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Section||Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology|
|Published online||07 March 2014|
Underwound DNA under tension: L-DNA vs. plectoneme
1 Institute of Fundamental Physics, Department of Physics, Sejong University - Neundong-ro 209, Seoul 143-747, Korea
2 Institut Charles Sadron, CNRS- UdS - 23 Rue du Loess, BP 84047, 67034 Strasbourg cedex 2, France
3 Department of Physics, Korea University - Seoul 136-713, Korea
Received: 9 November 2013
Accepted: 14 February 2014
In many biological processes DNA experiences force in the pN range and torque that underwinds it. Magnetic tweezers experiments show that the superhelicity-extension curve, the so-called bell curve, is asymmetric with respect to the inversion of σ. We study the case of underwound DNA which was not addressed theoretically before. While the case of overwound DNA is fully explained by the formation of supercoil, the extension of underwound DNA reveals non-trivial tension dependence. We show that plectonemic coils form at moderate tension, whereas left-handed DNA, so-called “L-DNA”, prevails at high tension (above ). In a narrow but physiologically relevant crossover range of tension, that is between 0.4 pN and 0.7 pN, extra unwinding turns are statistically distributed to either plectoneme or L-DNA. In this regime the states of a torsionally stressed DNA should be most sensitive to external mechanical stimuli.
PACS: 82.37.Rs – Single molecule manipulation of proteins and other biological molecules / 87.14.gk – DNA
© EPLA, 2014
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