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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 May 8;98(10):5584-9. Epub 2001 Apr 24.

Non-Arrhenius kinetics for the loop closure of a DNA hairpin.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, United Kingdom.


Intramolecular chain diffusion is an elementary process in the conformational fluctuations of the DNA hairpin-loop. We have studied the temperature and viscosity dependence of a model DNA hairpin-loop by FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) fluctuation spectroscopy (FRETfs). Apparent thermodynamic parameters were obtained by analyzing the correlation amplitude through a two-state model and are consistent with steady-state fluorescence measurements. The kinetics of closing the loop show non-Arrhenius behavior, in agreement with theoretical prediction and other experimental measurements on peptide folding. The fluctuation rates show a fractional power dependence (beta = 0.83) on the solution viscosity. A much slower intrachain diffusion coefficient in comparison to that of polypeptides was derived based on the first passage time theory of SSS [Szabo, A., Schulten, K. & Schulten, Z. (1980) J. Chem. Phys. 72, 4350-4357], suggesting that intrachain interactions, especially stacking interaction in the loop, might increase the roughness of the free energy surface of the DNA hairpin-loop.

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