Can one detect intermediate denaturation states of DNA sequences by following the equilibrium open-close dynamic fluctuations of a single base pair?

Keerti Chauhan, Amit Raj Singh, Sanjay Kumar, Rony Granek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Melting of DNA sequences may occur through a few major intermediate states, whose influence on the melting curve has been discussed previously, while their effect on the kinetics has not been explored thoroughly. Here, we chose a simple DNA sequence, forming a hairpin in its native (zipped) state, and study it using molecular dynamic (MD) simulations and a model integrating the Gaussian network model with bond-binding energies-the Gaussian binding energy (GBE) model. We find two major partial denaturation states, a bubble state and a partial unzipping state. We demonstrate the influence of these two states on the closing-opening base pair dynamics, as probed by a tagged bond auto-correlation function (ACF). We argue that the latter is measured by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy experiments, in which one base of the pair is linked to a fluorescent dye, while the complementary base is linked to a quencher, similar to the experiment reported by Altan-Bonnet et al. [Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 138101 (2003)]. We find that tagging certain base pairs at temperatures around the melting temperature results in a multi-step relaxation of the ACF, while tagging other base pairs leads to an effectively single-step relaxation, albeit non-exponential. Only the latter type of relaxation has been observed experimentally, and we suggest which of the other base pairs should be tagged in order to observe multi-step relaxation. We demonstrate that this behavior can be observed with other sequences and argue that the GBE can reliably predict these dynamics for very long sequences, where MD simulations might be limited.

Original languageEnglish
Article number164907
Pages (from-to)164907
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Volume156
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Apr 2022

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