In a recent development, theoretical physicists and nanoscientists at EMBL Australia and UNSW joined hands to explain the complicated mechanisms that govern how fast two matching strands of DNA can come together fully to form double stranded DNA.
The findings are published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research.
In fact, some fifty years ago, a theory was proposed that hypothesized the mechanism of hybridising of DNA strands. It says, this is determined by the initial contact that leads to further attaching of the string of matching bases on the DNA strands.
Meanwhile, until now, the theory has not been proven due to many complexities around DNA biology.
Hypothetically, there are large number of pathways using which two fully dissociated strands can attach to each other. DNA strands don’t form a completely hybridized duplex in an instant. At some point, only two or three base pairs join in spontaneously.
This describes a nucleating event, stated the associate who led researchers at UNSW Science, UNSW Medicine & Health, and Imperial College, London.
To demonstrate the hybridising of DNA strands, this involved building a simple mathematical model with only two parameters. In this model, the researchers questioned if the number of nucleating interactions can be determined, and their stability, if this will enable to predict hybridization rates. And the answer to this was yes, stated the lead researcher.
The quantitative testing of the model involved translating the original hypothesis into a mathematical statement that could be used to measure against experimental observations with man-made DNA.
The simplicity of the model is pivotal to the predictive power of the model, explained the lead researcher.
The number of parameters is important in a mathematical model to be useful to make predictions.