Department of Physics Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

12-1997

Publication Source

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Volume

94

Issue

26

Start Page

14418

Last Page

14422

DOI

10.1073/pnas.94.26.14418

Abstract

DNA and other biopolymers differ from classical polymers because of their torsional stiffness. This property changes the statistical character of their conformations under tension from a classical random walk to a problem we call the "torsional directed walk." Motivated by a recent experiment on single lambda-DNA molecules [Strick, T. R., Allemand, J.-F., Bensimon, D., Bensimon, A. & Croquette, V. (1996) Science 271, 1835-1837], we formulate the torsional directed walk problem and solve it analytically in the appropriate force regime. Our technique affords a direct physical determination of the microscopic twist stiffness C and twist-stretch coupling D relevant for DNA functionality. The theory quantitatively fits existing experimental data for relative extension as a function of overtwist over a wide range of applied force; fitting to the experimental data yields the numerical values C = 120 nm and D = 50 nm. Future experiments will refine these values. We also predict that the phenomenon of reduction of effective twist stiffness by bend fluctuations should be testable in future single-molecule experiments, and we give its analytic form.

Included in

Physics Commons

Share

COinS
 

Date Posted: 01 May 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.