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I. The structure and properties of closed circular duplex DNA. II. Chemically interacting systems at equilibrium in a buoyant density gradient


Bauer, William Robert (1968) I. The structure and properties of closed circular duplex DNA. II. Chemically interacting systems at equilibrium in a buoyant density gradient. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/0v4z-sg21.


I. The binding of the intercalating dye ethidium bromide to closed circular SV 40 DNA causes an unwinding of the duplex structure and a simultaneous and quantitatively equivalent unwinding of the superhelices. The buoyant densities and sedimentation velocities of both intact (I) and singly nicked (II) SV 40 DNAs were measured as a function of free dye concentration. The buoyant density data were used to determine the binding isotherms over a dye concentration range extending from 0 to 600 µg/m1 in 5.8 M CsCl. At high dye concentrations all of the binding sites in II, but not in I, are saturated. At free dye concentrations less than 5.4 µg/ml, I has a greater affinity for dye than II. At a critical amount of dye bound I and II have equal affinities, and at higher dye concentration I has a lower affinity than II. The number of superhelical turns, τ, present in I is calculated at each dye concentration using Fuller and Waring's (1964) estimate of the angle of duplex unwinding per intercalation. The results reveal that SV 40 DNA I contains about -13 superhelical turns in concentrated salt solutions.

The free energy of superhelix formation is calculated as a function of τ from a consideration of the effect of the superhelical turns upon the binding isotherm of ethidium bromide to SV 40 DNA I. The value of the free energy is about 100 kcal/mole DNA in the native molecule. The free energy estimates are used to calculate the pitch and radius of the superhelix as a function of the number of superhelical turns. The pitch and radius of the native I superhelix are 430 Å and 135 Å, respectively.

A buoyant density method for the isolation and detection of closed circular DNA is described. The method is based upon the reduced binding of the intercalating dye, ethidium bromide, by closed circular DNA. In an application of this method it is found that HeLa cells contain in addition to closed circular mitochondrial DNA of mean length 4.81 microns, a heterogeneous group of smaller DNA molecules which vary in size from 0.2 to 3.5 microns and a paucidisperse group of multiples of the mitochondrial length.

II. The general theory is presented for the sedimentation equilibrium of a macromolecule in a concentrated binary solvent in the presence of an additional reacting small molecule. Equations are derived for the calculation of the buoyant density of the complex and for the determination of the binding isotherm of the reagent to the macrospecies. The standard buoyant density, a thermodynamic function, is defined and the density gradients which characterize the four component system are derived. The theory is applied to the specific cases of the binding of ethidium bromide to SV 40 DNA and of the binding of mercury and silver to DNA.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Chemistry
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Vinograd, Jerome Rubin
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:15 December 1967
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03182016-124256042
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9624
Deposited On:23 Mar 2016 15:58
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

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