Recent developments in next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques have opened the door for low-cost, high-throughput sequencing of genomes. However, these developments have also exposed the inability of NGS to track large scale genomic information, which are extremely important to understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype. Genome mapping offers a reliable way to obtain information about large-scale structural variations in a given genome. A promising variant of genome mapping involves confining single DNA molecules in nanochannels whose cross-sectional dimensions are approximately 50 nm. Despite the development and commercialization of nanochannel-based genome mapping technology, the polymer physics of DNA in confinement is only beginning to be understood. Apart from its biological relevance, DNA is also used as a model polymer in experiments by polymer physicists. Indeed, the seminal experiments by Reisner et al. (2005) of DNA confined in nanochannels of different widths revealed discrepancies with the classical theories of Odijk and de Gennes for polymer confinement. Picking up from the conclusions of the dissertation of Tree (2014), this dissertation addresses a number of key outstanding problems in the area of nanoconfined DNA. Adopting a Monte Carlo chain growth technique known as the pruned-enriched Rosenbluth method, we examine the equilibrium and near-equilibrium properties of DNA and other semiflexible polymers in nanochannel confinement. We begin by analyzing the dependence of molecular weight on various thermodynamic properties of confined semiflexible polymers. This allows us to point out the finite size effects that can occur when using low molecular weight DNA in experiments. We then analyze the statistics of backfolding and hairpin formation in the context of existing theories and discuss how our results can be used to engineer better conditions for genome mapping. Finally, we elucidate the diffusion behavior of confined semiflexible polymers by comparing and contrasting our results for asymptotically long chains with other similar studies in the literature. We expect our findings to be not only beneficial to the design of better genome mapping devices, but also to the fundamental understanding of semiflexible polymers in confinement.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. January 2016. Major: Material Science and Engineering. Advisor: Kevin Dorfman. 1 computer file (PDF); xv, 224 pages.
Equilibrium properties of DNA and other semiflexible polymers confined in nanochannels.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.