7. DNA and Chromosome Structure
Textbook QuestionTextbook Question
Electrophoresis is an extremely useful procedure when applied to analysis of nucleic acids as it can resolve molecules of different sizes with relative ease and accuracy. Large molecules migrate more slowly than small molecules in agarose gels. However, the fact that nucleic acids of the same length may exist in a variety of conformations can often complicate the interpretation of electrophoretic separations. For instance, when a single species of a bacterial plasmid is isolated from cells, the individual plasmids may exist in three forms (depending on the genotype of their host and conditions of isolation): superhelical/supercoiled (form I), nicked/open circle (form II), and linear (form III). Form I is compact and very tightly coiled, with both DNA strands continuous. Form II exists as a loose circle because one of the two DNA strands has been broken, thus releasing the supercoil. All three have the same mass, but each will migrate at a different rate through a gel. Based on your understanding of gel composition and DNA migration, predict the relative rates of migration of the three DNA structures mentioned above.
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