Dynamics of DNA Double Helices

  • Dietmar Porschke
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 291)

Abstract

First, a short survey is given on the time scale of various ‘elementary’ processes observed in nucleic acids. Then, the ‘self-organisation’ of long viral DNA molecules from voluminous, disordered wormlike coils to compact well ordered toroids is discussed with respect to its dynamics. Two limit cases of the reaction mechanism for the spermine induced toroid formation have been demonstrated by stopped flow and electric field jump measurements:
  1. 1)

    At low spermine concentrations the rate of toroid formation is limited by the rate of spermine association to the DNA chain. The observed induction periods and the overall reaction rates indicate that spermine molecules move along the DNA with a rate of ~ 200 residues/s.

     
  2. 2)

    In the limit of high spermine concentrations winding of DNA strands into the toroidal form is reflected by a spectrum of time constants ranging from 25µs to 2ms. This high rate is quite remarkable and suggests the analogy of a spring, which is kept under tension by electrostatic repulsion and which collapses immediately, when the repulsion is reduced by ligand binding.

     
Bending of DNA double helices has been analyzed in further detail by electrooptical measurements on restriction fragments. Bending amplitudes and bending time constants have been assigned as a function of the DNA chain length. An orientation function for weakly bent rods has been developed, which serves to explain the stationary dichroism and bending amplitudes. Most of the data are consistent with simple thermal bending, but deviations under special conditions suggest the existence of inherent curvature.

Finally, a simple model of toroid formation is proposed.

Keywords

Electric Field Pulse Persistence Length Light Scattering Intensity Relaxation Time Constant Range Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dietmar Porschke
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische ChemieGöttingenGermany

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