DNA structure and dynamics: An atomic force microscopy study

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74 Scopus citations


This review primarily outlines the most recent atomic force microscopy (AFM) studies of DNA structure and dynamics. Sample preparation techniques allowing reliable and reproducible imaging of various DNA topologies are reviewed. Such important issues as imaging of supercoiled DNA conformations at different ionic conditions and detection of local alternative structures that are stabilized by negative DNA supercoiling are discussed in length in the article. The possibility of imaging DNA structural dynamics at different levels is another major focus of the article. Using time-lapse AFM imaging mode of nondried samples, such extensive DNA dynamic processes as transition of one local structure into another (H-DNA to B-form transition), the conformational transitions of DNA Holliday junctions and their branch migration were observed. Potential future applications of this single-molecule dynamics mode of AFM to analyses of various biochemical processes involving DNA are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-98
Number of pages24
JournalCell Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • AFM
  • Alternative DNA structures
  • DNA supercoiling
  • Holliday junctions
  • Imaging
  • Recombination
  • SFM
  • Single-molecule dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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