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Counterion atmospheres condensed onto charged biopolymers strongly affect their physical properties and biological functions, but have been difficult to quantify experimentally. Here, monovalent and divalent counterion atmospheres around DNA double helices in solution are probed using small-angle x-ray scattering techniques. Modulation of the ion scattering(More)
We have used small angle x-ray scattering and computer simulations with a coarse-grained model to provide a time-resolved picture of the global folding process of the Tetrahymena group I RNA over a time window of more than five orders of magnitude. A substantial phase of compaction is observed on the low millisecond timescale, and the overall compaction and(More)
Time-resolved small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) with millisecond time-resolution reveals two discrete phases of global compaction upon Mg2+-mediated folding of the Tetrahymena thermophila ribozyme. Electrostatic relaxation of the RNA occurs rapidly and dominates the first phase of compaction during which the observed radius of gyration (R(g)) decreases(More)
Large RNAs can collapse into compact conformations well before the stable formation of the tertiary contacts that define their final folds. This study identifies likely physical mechanisms driving these early compaction events in RNA folding. We have employed time-resolved small-angle X-ray scattering to monitor the fastest global shape changes of the(More)
The competition of monovalent and divalent cations for proximity to negatively charged DNA is of biological importance and can provide strong constraints for theoretical treatments of polyelectrolytes. Resonant x-ray scattering experiments have allowed us to monitor the number and distribution of each cation in a mixed ion cloud around DNA. These(More)
Can nonspecifically bound divalent counterions induce attraction between DNA strands? Here, we present experimental evidence demonstrating attraction between short DNA strands mediated by Mg2+ ions. Solution small angle x-ray scattering data collected as a function of DNA concentration enable model independent extraction of the second virial coefficient. As(More)
A microfluidic mixer is applied to study the kinetics of calmodulin conformational changes upon Ca2+ binding. The device facilitates rapid, uniform mixing by decoupling hydrodynamic focusing from diffusive mixing and accesses time scales of tens of microseconds. The mixer is used in conjunction with multiphoton microscopy to examine the fast Ca2+-induced(More)
Cation-mediated RNA folding from extended to compact, biologically active conformations relies on a temporal balance of forces. The Mg2 +-mediated folding of the Tetrahymena thermophila ribozyme is characterized by rapid nonspecific collapse followed by tertiary-contact-induced compaction. This article focuses on an autonomously folding portion of the(More)
The presence of small numbers of multivalent ions in DNA-containing solutions results in strong attractive forces between DNA strands. Despite the biological importance of this interaction, e.g., DNA condensation, its physical origin remains elusive. We carried out a series of experiments to probe interactions between short DNA strands as small numbers of(More)
Interactions between short strands of DNA can be tuned from repulsive to attractive by varying solution conditions and have been quantified using small angle x-ray scattering techniques. The effective DNA interaction charge was extracted by fitting the scattering profiles with the generalized one-component method and inter-DNA Yukawa pair potentials. A(More)