Long-range structural effects in supercoiled DNA: statistical thermodynamics reveals a correlation between calculated cooperative melting and contextual influence on cruciform extrusion.

Research paper by F F Schaeffer, E E Yeramian, D M DM Lilley

Indexed on: 01 Aug '89Published on: 01 Aug '89Published in: Biopolymers


We have previously described [K. M. Sullivan and D. M. J. Lilley (1986) Cell 47, 817-827] a set of sequences, called C-type inducing sequences, which cause cruciform extrusion by adjacent inverted repeats to occur by an abnormal kinetic pathway involving a large denatured region of DNA. In this paper we apply statistical thermodynamic DNA helix melting theory to these sequences. We find a marked correlation between the ability of sequences to confer C-type cruciform character experimentally and their calculated propensity to undergo cooperative melting, and no exceptions have been found. The correlations are both qualitative and quantitative. Thus the ColE1 flanking sequences behave as single melting units, while the DNA of the S-type plasmid pIRbke8 exhibits no propensity to melt in the region of the bke cruciform. The results of the calculations are also fully consistent with the following experimental observations: 1. the ability of the isolated colL and colR fragments of the ColE1 flanking sequences, as well as the short sequence col30, to confer C-type character; 2. C-type induction by an A + T rich Drosophila sequence; 3. low-temperature cruciform extrusion by an (AT)34 sequence; 4. the effect of changing sequences at a site 90 base pairs (bp) removed from the inverted repeat; 5. the effects of systematic deletion of the colL sequence; and 6. the effects of insertion of various sequences in between the colL sequence and the xke inverted repeat. These studies show that telestability effects on thermal denaturation as predicted from equilibrium helix melting theory of linear DNA molecules may explain all the features that are revealed by studying the extrusion of cruciforms in circular DNA molecules subjected to superhelical stress.