Extension of nanoconfined DNA: Quantitative comparison between experiment and theory

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Abstract

The extension of DNA confined to nanochannels has been studied intensively and in detail. However, quantitative comparisons between experiments and model calculations are difficult because most theoretical predictions involve undetermined prefactors, and because the model parameters (contour length, Kuhn length, effective width) are difficult to compute reliably, leading to substantial uncertainties. Here we use a recent asymptotically exact theory for the DNA extension in the "extended de Gennes regime" that allows us to compare experimental results with theory. For this purpose, we performed experiments measuring the mean DNA extension and its standard deviation while varying the channel geometry, dye intercalation ratio, and ionic strength of the buffer. The experimental results agree very well with theory at high ionic strengths, indicating that the model parameters are reliable. At low ionic strengths, the agreement is less good. We discuss possible reasons. In principle, our approach allows us to measure the Kuhn length and the effective width of a single DNA molecule and more generally of semiflexible polymers in solution.

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  • Nano Technology
Original languageEnglish
Article number062701
JournalPhysical Review E (Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics)
Volume92
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes