Sébastien Neukirch
Institut Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Université Pierre et Marie Curie
Paris, France

tel: +33 1 44 27 72 61
fax : +33 1 44 27 52 59
e-mail: sebastien.neukirch (-atat-) upmc.fr

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Elasticity and electrostatics of plectonemic DNA

N. Clauvelin, B. Audoly and S. Neukirch

Biophysical Journal 96 #9 (2009) 3716--3723

Abstract : We present a self-contained theory for the mechanical response of DNA in single molecule experiments. Our model is based on a 1D continuum description of the DNA molecule and accounts both for its elasticity and for DNA-DNA electrostatic interactions. We consider the classical loading geometry used in experiments where one end of the molecule is attached to a substrate and the other one is pulled by a tensile force and twisted by a given number of turns. We focus on configurations relevant to the limit of a large number of turns, which are made up of two phases, one with linear DNA and the other one with superhelical DNA. The model takes into account thermal fluctuations in the linear phase and electrostatic interactions in the superhelical phase. The values of the torsional stress, of the supercoiling radius and angle, and key features of the experimental extension-rotation curves, namely the slope of the linear region and thermal buckling threshold, are predicted. They are found in good agreement with experimental data.

Key words : elasticity; self-contact; twist-storing polymer; DNA electrostatics.

ArXiV: 0811.1840

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