Evidence for universal scaling behavior of a freely relaxing DNA molecule

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Reference

Evidence for the universal scaling behaviour of a freely relaxing DNA molecule

S. Manneville, Ph. Cluzel, J.-L. Viovy, D. Chatenay, F. Caron

Europhysics Letters 36: 413-418 (1996)

Key Results

Brochard-Wyart "stem-and-flower" model

The Brochard-Wyart "stem-and-flower" model posits that the relaxation of a tethered polymer under flow at intermediate velocities is described by

<math> L(t)-L_0 \propto \sqrt{\frac{kT}{\eta a} t} </math>

Where L(t) is the length at time t, <math>L_0</math> is the initial length, k is the Boltzmann constant, T is the absolute temperature, <math>\eta</math> is the viscosity of the solvent, and a is the persistence length. The experiments showed that:

  • <math>L(t)-L_0</math> obeys a power law
  • Changing <math>\eta</math> does not change the scaling exponent

All of the experiments can be plotted at the same time if we plot <math> \frac{L(t)-L_0}{L_0 /2} </math> versus <math> \frac{t}{\tau_{1/2}} </math>, where <math> L(\tau_{1/2}) = L_0/2 </math>.

Rescaling analysis of the full data set. Inset = Dispersion of the data around the theoretical scaling factor of 1/2.

The data above follows a power law with a scaling exponent of 0.51. Analyzing data generated by another set of experiments (Science 264:822) generated scaling exponents which ranged between 0.43-0.52.

Why Care

There have been previous studies which looked at the kinetics of DNA relaxation, but they relied on either optical tweezers or magnetic beads. This is the first work in which the molecule was stretched purely by flow, presumably providing a cleaner measurement of the phenomenon.

Methods