Manipulation of double-stranded DNA melting by force Academic Article uri icon


  • By integrating elasticity\char22{}as described by the Gaussian network model\char22{}with bond binding energies that distinguish between different base-pair identities and stacking configurations, we study the force induced melting of a double-stranded DNA (dsDNA). Our approach is a generalization of our previous study of thermal dsDNA denaturation [J. Chem. Phys. 145, 144101 (2016)] to that induced by force at finite temperatures. It allows us to obtain semimicroscopic information about the opening of the chain, such as whether the dsDNA opens from one of the ends or from the interior, forming an internal bubble. We study different types of force manipulation: (i) ``end unzipping,'' with force acting at a single end base pair perpendicular to the helix, (ii) ``midunzipping,'' with force acting at a middle base pair perpendicular to the helix, and (iii) ``end shearing,'' where the force acts at opposite ends along the helix. By monitoring the free-energy landscape and probability distribution of intermediate denaturation states, we show that different dominant intermediate states are stabilized depending on the type of force manipulation used. In particular, the bubble state of the sequence L60B36, which we have previously found to be a stable state during thermal denaturation, is absent for end unzipping and end shearing, whereas very similar bubbles are stabilized by midunzipping, or when the force location is near the middle of the chain. Ours results offer a simple tool for stabilizing bubbles and loops using force manipulations at different temperatures, and may implicate on the mechanism in which DNA enzymes or motors open regions of the chain.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017