University of Cambridge > > Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars > Localised buckling, writhing and cutting of the DNA molecule

Localised buckling, writhing and cutting of the DNA molecule

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Single–molecule tests on DNA in a magnetic tweezer experiment allow the molecule to be stretched and twisted. Under increasing twist the DNA buckles locally and forms a ply (plectoneme) which grows at right–angles to the loading axis. Interpreting this in terms of elastic–rod theory allows the estimation of important parameters of the molecule. Certain enzymes, the topoisomerases, play an important role in the human cell by cutting the long strands of DNA to release excessive torsional stresses. If these are added to the experimental environment, individual cuts can be observed, giving vital clues as to how the enzymes operate. We shall examine in some detail the energy changes that can be induced by two types of topoisomerase.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars series.

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