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Propagation of Melting Cooperativity along the Phosphodiester Backbone of DNA

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journal contribution
posted on 17.12.2003 by Jessica Becaud, Isabelle Pompizi, Christian J. Leumann
The role of the DNA phosphodiester backbone in the transfer of melting cooperativity between two helical domains was experimentally addressed with a helix−bulge−helix DNA model, in which the bulge consisted of a varying number of either conformationally flexible propanediol or conformationally constrained bicyclic anucleosidic phosphodiester backbone units. We found that structural communication between two double helical domains is transferred along the DNA backbone over the equivalent of ca. 12−20 backbone units, depending on whether there is a symmetric or asymmetric distribution of the anucleosidic units on both strands. We observed that extension of anucleosidic units on one strand only suffices to disrupt cooperativity transfer in a similar way as if extension occurs on both strands, indicating that the length of the longest anucleosidic inset determines cooperativity transfer. Furthermore, conformational rigidity of the sugar unit increases the distance of coopertivity transfer along the phosphodiester backbone. This is especially the case when the units are asymmetrically distributed in both strands.

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