365 research outputs found

    Phase diagram of force-induced DNA unzipping in exactly solvable models

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    The mechanical separation of the double helical DNA structure induced by forces pulling apart the two DNA strands (``unzipping'') has been the subject of recent experiments. Analytical results are obtained within various models of interacting pairs of directed walks in the (1,1,...,1) direction on the hypercubic lattice, and the phase diagram in the force-temperature plane is studied for a variety of cases. The scaling behaviour is determined at both the unzipping and the melting transition. We confirm the existence of a cold denaturation transition recently observed in numerical simulations: for a finite range of forces the system gets unzipped by {\it decreasing} the temperature. The existence of this transition is rigorously established for generic lattice and continuum space models.Comment: 19 pages, 5 eps figures; revised version with minor changes, presentation simplified in the text with details in appendix. Accepted for publication in Phys. Rev.

    Facilitated diffusion on confined DNA

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    In living cells, proteins combine 3D bulk diffusion and 1D sliding along the DNA to reach a target faster. This process is known as facilitated diffusion, and we investigate its dynamics in the physiologically relevant case of confined DNA. The confining geometry and DNA elasticity are key parameters: we find that facilitated diffusion is most efficient inside an isotropic volume, and on a flexible polymer. By considering the typical copy numbers of proteins in vivo, we show that the speedup due to sliding becomes insensitive to fine tuning of parameters, rendering facilitated diffusion a robust mechanism to speed up intracellular diffusion-limited reactions. The parameter range we focus on is relevant for in vitro systems and for facilitated diffusion on yeast chromatin

    Polymer packaging and ejection in viral capsids: shape matters

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    We use a mesoscale simulation approach to explore the impact of different capsid geometries on the packaging and ejection dynamics of polymers of different flexibility. We find that both packing and ejection times are faster for flexible polymers. For such polymers a sphere packs more quickly and ejects more slowly than an ellipsoid. For semiflexible polymers, however, the case relevant to DNA, a sphere both packs and ejects more easily. We interpret our results by considering both the thermodynamics and the relaxational dynamics of the polymers. The predictions could be tested with bio-mimetic experiments with synthetic polymers inside artificial vesicles. Our results suggest that phages may have evolved to be roughly spherical in shape to optimise the speed of genome ejection, which is the first stage in infection.Comment: 4 pages, 4 figure

    Phase diagram for unzipping DNA with long-range interactions

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    We present a critique and extension of the mean-field approach to the mechanical pulling transition in bound polymer systems. Our model is motivated by the theoretically and experimentally important examples of adsorbed polymers and double-stranded DNA, and we focus on the case in which quenched disorder in the sequence of monomers is unimportant for the statistical mechanics. We show how including excluded volume interactions in the model affects the phase diagram for the critical pulling force, and we predict a re-entrancy phase at low temperatures which has not been previously discussed. We also consider the case of non-equilibrium pulling, in which the external force probes the local, rather than the global structure of the dsDNA or adsorbed polymer. The dynamics of the pulling transition in such experiments could illuminate the polymer's loop structure, which depends on the nature of excluded volume interactions.Comment: 4 pages, 2 figures; this version clarifies Eq. 8, and corrects errors in Fig.

    Switching dynamics in cholesteric blue phases

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    Blue phases are networks of disclination lines, which occur in cholesteric liquid crystals near the transition to the isotropic phase. They have recently been used for the new generation of fast switching liquid crystal displays. Here we study numerically the steady states and switching hydrodynamics of blue phase I (BPI) and blue phase II (BPII) cells subjected to an electric field. When the field is on, there are three regimes: for very weak fields (and strong anchoring at the boundaries) the blue phases are almost unaffected, for intermediate fields the disclinations twist (for BPI) and unzip (for BPII), whereas for very large voltages the network dissolves in the bulk of the cell. Interestingly, we find that a BPII cell can recover its original structure when the field is switched off, whereas a BPI cell is found to be trapped more easily into metastable configurations. The kinetic pathways followed during switching on and off entails dramatic reorganisation of the disclination networks. We also discuss the effect of changing the director field anchoring at the boundary planes and of varying the direction of the applied field.Comment: 17 pages, 11 figure

    Lattice Boltzmann Algorithm for three-dimensional liquid crystal hydrodynamics

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    We describe a lattice Boltzmann algorithm to simulate liquid crystal hydrodynamics in three dimensions. The equations of motion are written in terms of a tensor order parameter. This allows both the isotropic and the nematic phases to be considered. Backflow effects and the hydrodynamics of topological defects are naturally included in the simulations, as are viscoelastic effects such as shear-thinning and shear-banding. We describe the implementation of velocity boundary conditions and show that the algorithm can be used to describe optical bounce in twisted nematic devices and secondary flow in sheared nematics with an imposed twist.Comment: 12 pages, 3 figure
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