Force-extension behavior of DNA in the presence of DNA-bending nucleoid associated proteins

K. Dahlke, C. E. Sing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interactions between nucleoid associated proteins (NAPs) and DNA affect DNA polymer conformation, leading to phenomena such as concentration dependent force-extension behavior. These effects, in turn, also impact the local binding behavior of the protein, such as high forces causing proteins to unbind, or proteins binding favorably to locally bent DNA. We develop a coarse-grained NAP-DNA simulation model that incorporates both force- and concentration-dependent behaviors, in order to study the interplay between NAP binding and DNA conformation. This model system includes multi-state protein binding and unbinding, motivated by prior work, but is now dependent on the local structure of the DNA, which is related to external forces acting on the DNA strand. We observe the expected qualitative binding behavior, where more proteins are bound at lower forces than at higher forces. Our model also includes NAP-induced DNA bending, which affects DNA elasticity. We see semi-quantitative matching of our simulated force-extension behavior to the reported experimental data. By using a coarse-grained simulation, we are also able to look at non-equilibrium behaviors, such as dynamic extension of a DNA strand. We stretch a DNA strand at different rates and at different NAP concentrations to observe how the time scales of the system (such as pulling time and unbinding time) work in concert. When these time scales are similar, we observe measurable rate-dependent changes in the system, which include the number of proteins bound and the force required to extend the DNA molecule. This suggests that the relative time scales of different dynamic processes play an important role in the behavior of NAP-DNA systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number084902
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 28 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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