Two Different Ways of Stress Release in Supercoiled DNA Minicircles under DNA Nick

YP Qiao and CL Ren and YQ Ma, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B, 127, 4015-4021 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.2c08618

It is generally believed that DNA nick is an effective way to release stress in supercoiled DNA, resulting from the twisting motion that individual strands rotate around the axis of the DNA helix. Here, we use MD simulations based on the oxDNA model to investigate the relaxation of 336 bp supercoiled minicircular DNA under DNA nick. Our simulations show that stress release, characterized by the abrupt decrease in linking number, may be induced by two types of DNA motion depending on the nick position. Except for the twisting motion, there is a writhing motion, that is, double strands collectively rotating with one plectoneme removal, which may occur in the process of DNA relaxation with the nick position in the loop region. Moreover, the writhing motion is more likely to occur in the DNA with relatively high hardness, such as C-G pairs. Our simulation results uncover the relationship between structural transformation, stress release, and DNA motion during the dynamic process under DNA nick, indicating the influence of nick position on the relaxation of the supercoiled DNA.

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