Effect of knots on binding of intercalators to DNA

Shlomi Medalion, Yitzhak Rabin

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1 Scopus citations


We study the effect of knots in circular dsDNA molecules on the binding of intercalating ligands. Using Monte Carlo simulations we show that depending on their handedness, the presence of knots can either suppress or enhance intercalation in supercoiled DNA. When the occupancy of intercalators on DNA is low, the effect of knots on intercalation can be captured by introducing a shift in the mean writhe of the chain that accounts for the writhe of the corresponding ideal knot. In the limit of high intercalator occupancy, the writhe distribution of different knots is strongly affected by excluded volume effects and therefore by salt concentration. Based on the finding that different knots yield well-separated probability distributions of bound intercalators, we propose a new experimental approach to determine DNA topology by monitoring the intensity of fluorescence emitted by dye molecules intercalated into knotted DNA molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Article number205101
Pages (from-to)205101
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number20
StatePublished - 28 May 2014


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