Structure, force, and energy of a double-stranded DNA oligonucleotide under tensile loads.

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TitleStructure, force, and energy of a double-stranded DNA oligonucleotide under tensile loads.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsMackerell, AD, Lee, GU
JournalEur Biophys J
Date Published1999
KeywordsDNA, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Models, Molecular, Nucleic Acid Conformation, Nucleic Acid Heteroduplexes, Oligonucleotides, Software, Structure-Activity Relationship, Tensile Strength, Thermodynamics

The end-to-end stretching of a duplex DNA oligonucleotide has been studied using potential of mean force (PMF) calculations based on molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and atomic force microscopy (AFM) experiments. Near quantitative agreement between the calculations and experiments was obtained for both the extension length and forces associated with strand separation. The PMF calculations show that the oligonucleotide extends without a significant energetic barrier from a length shorter than A-DNA to a length 2.4 times the contour length of B-DNA at which the barrier to strand separation is encountered. Calculated forces associated with the barrier are 0.09 +/- 0.03 nN, based on assumptions concerning tip and thermal-activated barrier crossing contributions to the forces. Direct AFM measurements show the oligonucleotide strands separating at 2.6 +/- 0.8 contour lengths with a force of 0.13 +/- 0.05 nN. Analysis of the energies from the MD simulations during extension reveals compensation between increases in the DNA-self energy and decreases in the DNA-solvent interaction energy, allowing for the barrierless extension of DNA beyond the canonical B form. The barrier to strand separation occurs when unfavorable DNA interstrand repulsion cannot be compensated for by favorable DNA-solvent interactions. The present combination of single molecule theoretical and experimental approaches produces a comprehensive picture of the free energy surface of biological macromolecular structural transitions.

Alternate JournalEur. Biophys. J.
PubMed ID10413863
Grant ListGM51501 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States