The homology recognition well as an innate property of DNA structure

Alexei A. Kornyshev, Aaron Wynveen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Mutual recognition of homologous sequences of DNA before strand exchange is considered to be the most puzzling stage of recombination of genes. In 2001- a mechanism was suggested for a double- stranded DNA molecule to recognize from a distance its homologous match in electrolytic solution without unzipping [Kornyshev AA- Leikin S (2001) Phys Rev Lett 86:3666-3669]. Based on a theory of electrostatic interactions between helical molecules, the difference in the electrostatic interaction energy between homologous duplexes and between nonhomologous duplexes, called the recognition energy, was calculated. Here, we report a theoretical investigation of the form of the potential well that DNA molecules may feel sliding along each other. This well, the bottom of which is determined by the recognition energy, leads to trapping of the molecular tracks of the same homology in direct juxtaposition. A simple formula for the shape of the well is obtained. The well is quasi-exponential. Its half-width is determined by the helical coherence length, introduced first in the same 2001 article, the value of which, as the latest study shows, is ≈10 nm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4683-4688
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 24 2009

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