Statistical theory of force-induced unzipping of DNA
Department of Physics, Banaras Hindu University, 221005, Varanasi, India
Accepted: 3 February 2005
Published online: 18 March 2005
The unzipping transition under the influence of external force of a dsDNA molecule has been studied using the Peyrard-Bishop Hamiltonian. The critical force F c(T) for unzipping calculated in the constant force ensemble is found to depend on the potential parameter k which measures the stiffness associated with a single strand of DNA and on D, the well depth of the on-site potential representing the strength of hydrogen bonds in a base pair. The dependence on temperature of F c(T) is found to be (T D - T)1/2 (TD being the thermal denaturation temperature) with F c(T D) = 0 and F c(0) = . We used the constant extension ensemble to calculate the average force F(y) required to stretch a base pair a y distance apart. The value of F(y) needed to stretch a base pair located far away from the ends of a dsDNA molecule is found twice the value of the force needed to stretch a base pair located at one of the ends to the same distance for y ≥ 1.0 Å. The force F(y) in both cases is found to have a very large value for y ≈ 0.2 Å compared to the critical force found from the constant force ensemble to which F(y) approaches for large values of y. It is shown that the value of F(y) at the peak depends on the value of kρ which measures the energy barrier associated with the reduction in DNA strand rigidity as one passes from dsDNA to ssDNA and on the value of the depth of the on-site potential. The effect of defects on the position and height of the peak in the F(y) curve is investigated by replacing some of the base pairs including the one being stretched by defect base pairs. The formation and behaviour of a loop of Y shape when one of the ends base pair is stretched and a bubble of ssDNA with the shape of “an eye” when a base pair far from ends is stretched are investigated.
PACS: 87.14.Gg DNA, RNA – / 87.15.Aa Theory and modeling; computer simulation – / 64.70.-p Specific phase transitions –
© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag, 2005