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Determination of Melting Sequences in DNA and DNA-Protein Complexes by Difference Spectra

  • Anthony P. Russell
  • Robert L. Herrmann
  • LeNeal E. Dowling
Publication Date
Apr 01, 1969
  • Biology


A graphical formula is presented for determining the base ratio of melted DNA. By use of this formula, the composition of sequences which melt in different portions of the melting curves of Clostridium DNA, Escherichia coli DNA, and mouse DNA were determined. As the DNA melts, the per cent of adenine and thymine (AT) in the melted sequences decreases linearly with temperature. The average composition of sequences which melt in a given part of the melting curve is proportional to the base ratio of the DNA. The concentration and average composition of sequences were determined for three parts of the melting curves of the DNA samples, and a frequency distribution curve was constructed. The curve is symmetrical and has a maximum at about 56% AT. The distribution of GC-rich sequences on the E. coli chromosome was estimated by shearing, partially melting, and fractionating the DNA on hydroxylapatite. GC-rich sequences appear to occur every thousand base pairs, and have a maximum length of about 180 base pairs. The graphical formula was applied to the determination of the composition of sequences which melt in different parts of the melting curve of chromatin. Throughout the melting curve, the composition of the melting sequences is about 60% AT, which appears to suggest that relatively long sequences are melting simultaneously. Their melting temperature may be a function of the composition of the protein on different parts of the DNA. The problem of light scattering in DNA-protein and DNA was also investigated. A formula is presented which corrects for light scattering by relating the intensity of the scattered light to the rate of change of absorbance of DNA with wavelength.

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