Action at a distance along a DNA

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Science  15 Apr 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4850, pp. 300-304
DOI: 10.1126/science.3281259


A number of ways are known by which an event at one location on a DNA molecule can affect an event at a distant location on the same molecule. Three classes of mechanisms are described for such distal actions: tracking or translocation of a protein along a DNA, the association of two proteins bound at separate sites to form a DNA loop in between, and distal interactions that are affected by the topology of the DNA. The basic characteristics of each type of mechanism are discussed in terms of the known physicochemical properties of DNA. The various modes of action at a distance are often interrelated. Examples include the formation of positively and negatively supercoiled DNA loops by tracking and the strong effects of DNA topology on looping.