A polarized view on DNA under tension

Joost Van Mameren, Karen Vermeulen, Gijs J.L. Wuite, Erwin J.G. Peterman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In the past decades, sensitive fluorescence microscopy techniques have contributed significantly to our understanding of the dynamics of DNA. The specific labeling of DNA using intercalating dyes has allowed for quantitative measurement of the thermal fluctuations the polymers undergo. On the other hand, recent advances in single-molecule manipulation techniques have unraveled the mechanical and elastic properties of this intricate polymer. Here, we have combined these two approaches to study the conformational dynamics of DNA under a wide range of tensions. Using polarized fluorescence microscopy in conjunction with optical-tweezers-based manipulation of YOYO-intercalated DNA, we controllably align the YOYO dyes using DNA tension, enabling us to disentangle the rapid dynamics of the dyes from that of the DNA itself. With unprecedented control of the DNA alignment, we resolve an inconsistency in reports about the tilted orientation of intercalated dyes. We find that intercalated dyes are on average oriented perpendicular to the long axis of the DNA, yet undergo fast dynamics on the time scale of absorption and fluorescence emission. In the overstretching transition of double-stranded DNA, we do not observe changes in orientation or orientational dynamics of the dyes. Only beyond the overstretching transition, a considerable depolarization is observed, presumably caused by an average tilting of the DNA base pairs. Our combined approach thus contributes to the elucidation of unique features of the molecular dynamics of DNA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123306
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Volume148
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2018

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