We present a statistical-mechanical model for the behavior of intertwined DNAs, with a focus on their torque and extension as a function of their catenation (linking) number and applied force, as studied in magnetic tweezers experiments. Our model produces results in good agreement with available experimental data and predicts a catenation-dependent effective twist modulus distinct from what is observed for twisted individual double-helix DNAs. We find that buckling occurs near the point where experiments have observed a kink in the extension versus linking number, and that the subsequent "supercoiled braid" state corresponds to a proliferation of multiple small plectoneme structures. We predict a discontinuity in extension at the buckling transition corresponding to nucleation of the first plectoneme domain. We also find that buckling occurs for lower linking number at lower salt; the opposite trend is observed for supercoiled single DNAs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Statistics and Probability
- Condensed Matter Physics