Theory of high-force DNA stretching and overstretching

C. Storm, P. Nelson

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    134 Citations (Scopus)
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    Single-molecule experiments on single- and double-stranded DNA have sparked a renewed interest in the force versus extension of polymers. The extensible freely jointed chain (FJC) model is frequently invoked to explain the observed behavior of single-stranded DNA, but this model does not satisfactorily describe recent high-force stretching data. We instead propose a model (the discrete persistent chain) that borrows features from both the FJC and the wormlike chain, and show that it resembles the data more closely. We find that most of the high-force behavior previously attributed to stretch elasticity is really a feature of the corrected entropic elasticity; the true stretch compliance of single-stranded DNA is several times smaller than that found by previous authors. Next we elaborate our model to allow coexistence of two conformational states of DNA, each with its own stretch and bend elastic constants. Our model is computationally simple and gives an excellent fit through the entire overstretching transition of nicked, double-stranded DNA. The fit gives the first value for the bend stiffness of the overstretched state. In particular, we find the effective bend stiffness for DNA in this state to be about 12nmkBT, a value quite different from either the B-form or single-stranded DNA.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number051906
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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