TCB Publications - Abstract

Q. Zhao, J. Comer, S. Yemenicioglu, A. Aksimentiev, and G. Timp. Stretching and unzipping nucleic acid hairpins using a synthetic nanopore. Nucleic Acids Research, 36:1532-1541, 2008. (PMC: 2275135)

ZHAO2008-AA We have explored the electromechanical properties of DNA by using an electric field to force single hairpin molecules to translocate through a synthetic pore in a silicon nitride membrane. We observe a threshold voltage for translocation of the hairpin through the pore that depends sensitively on the diameter and the secondary structure of the DNA. The threshold for a diameter 1.5< d <2.3nm is V>1.5V, which corresponds to the force required to stretch the stem of the hairpin, according to molecular dynamics simulations. On the other hand, for 1.0< d <1.5nm, the threshold voltage collapses to V<0.5V because the stem unzips with a lower force than required for stretching. The data indicates that a synthetic nanopore can be used like a molecular gate to discriminate between the secondary structures in DNA.

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