A Motor that Makes Its Own Track: Helicase Unwinding of DNA

M. D. Betterton, Frank Jülicher
2003 Physical Review Letters  
Helicase opening of double-stranded nucleic acids may be "active" (the helicase directly destabilizes the dsNA to promote opening) or "passive" (the helicase binds ssNA available due to a thermal fluctuation which opens part of the dsNA). We describe helicase opening of dsNA, based on helicases which bind single NA strands and move towards the double-stranded region, using a discrete "hopping" model. The interaction between the helicase and the junction where the double strand opens is
more » ... ized by an interaction potential. The form of the potential determines whether the opening is active or passive. We calculate the rate of passive opening for the helicase PcrA, and show that the rate increases when the opening is active. Finally, we examine how to choose the interaction potential to optimize the rate of strand separation. One important result is our finding that active opening can increase the unwinding rate by 7 fold compared to passive opening.
doi:10.1103/physrevlett.91.258103 pmid:14754162 fatcat:izj3aswg2zgsriedba5lgwamoa