The melting behavior of a DNA junction structure: A calorimetric and spectroscopic study

Luis A. Marky, Neville R. Kallenbach, Kathleen A. McDonough, Nadrian C. Seeman, Kenneth J. Breslauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


We present an investigation of the helix–coil transition in a stable branched oligomer of DNA, known as an immobile DNA junction. This junction is composed of four 16‐mer strands, which yield four double‐helical arms, each containing 8 nucleotide pairs. Properties of the individual arms of this complex are modeled by four octameric duplexes. We have performed experiments using calorimetry, uv absorbance, and CD spectroscopy to characterize the melting transitions of the junction and each arm. By comparing our spectroscopic and calorimetric results on the junction and its component arms, we are able to conclude the following: (1) The calorimetric transition enthalpy for the overall junction complex is equal to the sum of the calorimetric transition enthalpies of the four constituent duplex arms. (2) The optical and the calorimetric measurements yield qualitatively similar, but not identical thermodynamic data. (3) The melting temperature of the junction is less dependent on concentration than the melting temperatures of the individual arms. We attribute this observation to the tetrameric nature of the junction. (4) The ratio of the calorimetric transition enthalpy of the junction and its corresponding van't Hoff value is close to unity. (5) The CD spectrum of the junction is equal quantitatively to the sum of the B‐like CD spectra of the four constituent duplex arms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1621-1634
Number of pages14
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Organic Chemistry


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