Three-Way DNA Junction as an End Label for DNA in Atomic Force Microscopy Studies

Zhiqiang Sun, Tommy Stormberg, Shaun Filliaux, Yuri L. Lyubchenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) is widely used for topographic imaging of DNA and protein-DNA complexes in ambient conditions with nanometer resolution. In AFM studies of protein-DNA complexes, identifying the protein’s location on the DNA substrate is one of the major goals. Such studies require distinguishing between the DNA ends, which can be accomplished by end-specific labeling of the DNA substrate. We selected as labels three-way DNA junctions (3WJ) assembled from synthetic DNA oligonucleotides with two arms of 39–40 bp each. The third arm has a three-nucleotide overhang, GCT, which is paired with the sticky end of the DNA substrate generated by the SapI enzyme. Ligation of the 3WJ results in the formation of a Y-type structure at the end of the linear DNA mole cule, which is routinely identified in the AFM images. The yield of labeling is 69%. The relative orientation of arms in the Y-end varies, such dynamics were directly visualized with time-lapse AFM studies using high-speed AFM (HS-AFM). This labeling approach was applied to the characterization of the nucleosome arrays assembled on different DNA templates. HS-AFM experiments revealed a high dynamic of nucleosomes resulting in a spontaneous unraveling followed by disassembly of nucleosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11404
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
  • DNA label
  • nucleosomes
  • three-way junction (3WJ)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Three-Way DNA Junction as an End Label for DNA in Atomic Force Microscopy Studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this