Direct mechanical measurements of the elasticity of single DNA molecules by using magnetic beads

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Science  13 Nov 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5085, pp. 1122-1126
DOI: 10.1126/science.1439819


Single DNA molecules were chemically attached by one end to a glass surface and by their other end to a magnetic bead. Equilibrium positions of the beads were observed in an optical microscope while the beads were acted on by known magnetic and hydrodynamic forces. Extension versus force curves were obtained for individual DNA molecules at three different salt concentrations with forces between 10(-14) and 10(-11) newtons. Deviations from the force curves predicted by the freely jointed chain model suggest that DNA has significant local curvature in solution. Ethidium bromide and 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole had little effect on the elastic response of the molecules, but their extent of intercalation was directly measured. Conversely, the effect of bend-inducing cis-diamminedichloroplatinum (II) was large and supports the hypothesis of natural curvature in DNA.

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