Mechanics of DNA supercoiling

Yang Yang, Irwin Tobias, Wilma Olson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A DNA polymer with hundreds or thousands base pairs is modeled as a thin elastic rod. To find the equilibrium configurations and associated elastic energies as a function of linking number difference (ΔLk), a finite element scheme based on Kirchhoff's rod theory is newly formulated so as to be able to treat self-contact. The numerical results obtained here agree well with those already published, both analytical and numerical, but a much more detailed picture emerges of the several equilibrium states which can exist for a given ΔLk. Of particular interest is the discovery of interwound states having odd integral values of the writhing number and very small twist energy. The existence of non-circular cross-section of the rod, inhomogeneous elastic constants, and intrinsic curvature can all be readily incorporated into the new formalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication1992 Advances in Bioengineering
PublisherPubl by ASME
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)0791811166
StatePublished - 1992
EventWinter Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers - Anaheim, CA, USA
Duration: Nov 8 1992Nov 13 1992

Publication series

NameAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers, Bioengineering Division (Publication) BED


OtherWinter Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
CityAnaheim, CA, USA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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