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J Phys Chem B. 2006 Aug 31;110(34):17260-7.

Tethered particle motion as a diagnostic of DNA tether length.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


The tethered particle motion (TPM) technique involves an analysis of the Brownian motion of a bead tethered to a slide by a single DNA molecule. We describe an improved experimental protocol with which to form the tethers, an algorithm for analyzing bead motion visualized using differential interference contrast microscopy, and a physical model with which we have successfully simulated such DNA tethers. Both experiment and theory show that the statistics of the bead motion are quite different from those of a free semiflexible polymer. Our experimental data for chain extension versus tether length fit our model over a range of tether lengths from 109 to 3477 base pairs, using a value for the DNA persistence length that is consistent with those obtained under similar solution conditions by other methods. Moreover, we present the first experimental determination of the full probability distribution function of bead displacements and find excellent agreement with our theoretical prediction. Our results show that TPM is a useful tool for monitoring large conformational changes such as DNA looping.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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