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Part I. Electric Birefringence Studies of Deoxyribonucleic Acids. Part II. Selective Dissociation of Nucleohistone Complexes


Ohlenbusch, Heiko Herbert Emil Walter (1966) Part I. Electric Birefringence Studies of Deoxyribonucleic Acids. Part II. Selective Dissociation of Nucleohistone Complexes. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/GA9Z-6S65.


Part I

The electric birefringence of dilute DNA solutions has been studied in considerable detail and on a large number of samples, but no new and reliable information was discovered concerning the tertiary structure of DNA. The large number of variables which effect the birefringence results is discussed and suggestions are made for further work on the subject.

The DNA molecules have been aligned in a rapidly alternating (10 to 20 kc/sec) square wave field confirming that the orientation mechanism is that of counterion polarization. A simple empirical relation between the steady state birefringence, Δnst, and the square of the electric field, E, has been found: Δnst = E2/(a E2 + b), where a = 1/Δns and b = (E2/Δnst)E→o. Δns is the birefringence extrapolated to infinite field strength.

The molecules show a distribution of relaxation times from 10-4 to 0.2 sec, which is consistent with expectations for flexible coil molecules. The birefringence and the relaxation times decrease with increasing salt concentrations. They also depend on the field strength and pulse duration in a rather non-reproducible manner, which may be due in part to changes in the composition of the solution or in the molecular structure of the DNA (other than denaturation). Further progress depends on the development of some control over these effects.

Part II

The specificity of the dissociation of reconstituted and native deoxyribonucleohistones (DNH) by monovalent salt solutions has been investigated. A novel zone ultracentrifugation method is used in which the DNH is sedimented as a zone through a preformed salt gradient, superimposed on a stabilizing D2O (sucrose) density gradient. The results, obtained by scanning the quartz sedimentation tubes in a spectrophotometer, were verified by the conventional, preparative sedimentation technique. Procedures are discussed for the detection of microgram quantities of histones, since low concentrations must be used to prevent excessive aggregation of the DNH.

The data show that major histone fractions are selectively dissociated from DNH by increasing salt concentrations: Lysine rich histone (H I) dissociates gradually between 0.1 and 0.3 F, slightly lysine rich histone (H II) dissociates as a narrow band between 0.35 and 0.5 F, and arginine rich histone (H III, H IV) dissociates gradually above 0.5 F NaClO4.

The activity of the partially dissociated, native DNH in sustaining RNA synthesis, their mobility and their unusual heat denaturation and renaturation behavior are described. The two-step melting behavior of the material indicates that the histones are non-randomly distributed along the DNA, but the implications are that the uncovered regions are not of gene-size length.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Chemistry and Economics)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Davidson, Norman R.
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:10 December 1965
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10052015-092714954
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9194
Deposited On:05 Oct 2015 19:39
Last Modified:05 Mar 2024 22:52

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