Nanorings to Probe Mechanical Stress of Single-Stranded DNA Mediated by the DNA Duplex

Karen Zagorski, Tommy Stormberg, Mohtadin Hashemi, Anatoly B. Kolomeisky, Yuri L. Lyubchenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The interplay between the mechanical properties of double-stranded and single-stranded DNA is a phenomenon that contributes to various genetic processes in which both types of DNA structures coexist. Highly stiff DNA duplexes can stretch single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) segments between the duplexes in a topologically constrained domain. To evaluate such an effect, we designed short DNA nanorings in which a DNA duplex with 160 bp is connected by a 30 nt single-stranded DNA segment. The stretching effect of the duplex in such a DNA construct can lead to the elongation of ssDNA, and this effect can be measured directly using atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging. In AFM images of the nanorings, the ssDNA regions were identified, and the end-to-end distance of ssDNA was measured. The data revealed a stretching of the ssDNA segment with a median end-to-end distance which was 16% higher compared with the control. These data are in line with theoretical estimates of the stretching of ssDNA by the rigid DNA duplex holding the ssDNA segment within the nanoring construct. Time-lapse AFM data revealed substantial dynamics of the DNA rings, allowing for the formation of transient crossed nanoring formations with end-to-end distances as much as 30% larger than those of the longer-lived morphologies. The generated nanorings are an attractive model system for investigation of the effects of mechanical stretching of ssDNA on its biochemical properties, including interaction with proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12916
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • DNA rings
  • atomic force microscopy (AFM)
  • mechanics of DNA
  • time-lapse AFM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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