Projects per year
As a model system to study the elasticity of bottle-brush polymers, we here introduce self-assembled DNA bottle brushes, consisting of a DNA main chain that can be very long and still of precisely defined length, and precisely monodisperse polypeptide side chains that are physically bound to the DNA main chains. Polypeptide side chains have a diblock architecture, where one block is a small archaeal nucleoid protein Sso7d that strongly binds to DNA. The other block is a net neutral, hydrophilic random coil polypeptide with a length of exactly 798 amino acids. Light scattering shows that for saturated brushes the grafting density is one side chain per 5.6 nm of DNA main chain. According to small-angle X-ray scattering, the brush diameter is D = 17 nm. By analyzing configurations of adsorbed DNA bottle brushes using AFM, we find that the effective persistence of the saturated DNA bottle brushes is Peff = 95 nm, but from force-extension curves of single DNA bottle brushes measured using optical tweezers we find Peff = 15 nm. The latter is equal to the value expected for DNA coated by the Sso7d binding block alone. The apparent discrepancy between the two measurements is rationalized in terms of the scale dependence of the bottle-brush elasticity using theory previously developed to analyze the scale-dependent electrostatic stiffening of DNA at low ionic strengths.