Direct Measurement of the Full, Sequence-Dependent Folding Landscape of a Nucleic Acid

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Science  10 Nov 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5801, pp. 1001-1004
DOI: 10.1126/science.1133601

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Nucleic acid hairpins provide a powerful model system for understanding macromolecular folding, with free-energy landscapes that can be readily manipulated by changing the hairpin sequence. The full shapes of energy landscapes for the reversible folding of DNA hairpins under controlled loads exerted by an optical force clamp were obtained by deconvolution from high-resolution, single-molecule trajectories. The locations and heights of the energy barriers for hairpin folding could be tuned by adjusting the number and location of G:C base pairs, and the presence and position of folding intermediates were controlled by introducing single-nucleotide mismatches.

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