Torque-induced deformations of charged elastic DNA rods: thin helices, loops, and precursors of DNA supercoiling

J Biol Phys. 2011 Mar;37(2):227-38. doi: 10.1007/s10867-010-9211-7. Epub 2011 Jan 18.

Abstract

We study the deformations of charged elastic rods under applied end forces and torques. For neutral filaments, we analyze the energetics of initial helical deformations and loop formation. We supplement this elastic approach with electrostatic energies of bent filaments and find critical conditions for buckling depending on the ionic strength of the solution. We also study force-induced loop opening, for parameters relevant for DNA. Finally, some applications of this nano-mechanical DNA model to salt-dependent onset of the DNA supercoiling are discussed.

Keywords: Buckling instability; DNA elasticity; DNA electrostatics; DNA supercoiling.