The internal 'slithering' dynamics of supercoiled DNA

John F. Marko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


DNAs in bacteria are usually circular and supercoiled in the manner of a twisted telephone cord. Supercoil dynamics, in addition to usual Zimm relaxation, include a long relaxation time corresponding to the 'slithering' of DNA sequence around inside the supercoil; this is believed to be important in bringing distant DNA sequences together in bacterial cells. Simple 'repton' models of slithering are proposed and numerically investigated for unbranched and branched supercoils. The first passage time by slithering for two distant sites on a N-monomer molecule with no branches is found to be ∼N3, as for conventional reptation. Allowing supercoil branching and branch motion, effects expected for large DNAs, reduces this time to ∼N2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-277
Number of pages15
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Oct 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'The internal 'slithering' dynamics of supercoiled DNA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this