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J Mol Biol. 2004 Sep 17;342(3):775-85.

Stacked-unstacked equilibrium at the nick site of DNA.

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Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, 36 Cummington Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Stability of duplex DNA with respect to separation of complementary strands is crucial for DNA executing its major functions in the cell and it also plays a central role in major biotechnology applications of DNA: DNA sequencing, polymerase chain reaction, and DNA microarrays. Two types of interaction are well known to contribute to DNA stability: stacking between adjacent base-pairs and pairing between complementary bases. However, their contribution into the duplex stability is yet to be determined. Now we fill this fundamental gap in our knowledge of the DNA double helix. We have prepared a series of 32, 300 bp-long DNA fragments with solitary nicks in the same position differing only in base-pairs flanking the nick. Electrophoretic mobility of these fragments in the gel has been studied. Assuming the equilibrium between stacked and unstacked conformations at the nick site, all 32 stacking free energy parameters have been obtained. Only ten of them are essential and they govern the stacking interactions between adjacent base-pairs in intact DNA double helix. A full set of DNA stacking parameters has been determined for the first time. From these data and from a well-known dependence of DNA melting temperature on G.C content, the contribution of base-pairing into duplex stability has been estimated. The obtained energy parameters of the DNA double helix are of paramount importance for understanding sequence-dependent DNA flexibility and for numerous biotechnology applications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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