Protein-Mediated DNA loop formation and breakdown in a fluctuating environment

Yih Fan Chen*, J. N. Milstein, Jens Christian Meiners

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Living cells provide a fluctuating, out-of-equilibrium environment in which genes must coordinate cellular function. DNA looping, which is a common means of regulating transcription, is very much a stochastic process; the loops arise from the thermal motion of the DNA and other fluctuations of the cellular environment. We present single-molecule measurements of DNA loop formation and breakdown when an artificial fluctuating force, applied to mimic a fluctuating cellular environment, is imposed on the DNA. We show that loop formation is greatly enhanced in the presence of noise of only a fraction of kBT, yet find that hypothetical regulatory schemes that employ mechanical tension in the DNA-as a sensitive switch to control transcription-can be surprisingly robust due to a fortuitous cancellation of noise effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number258103
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number25
StatePublished - 24 Jun 2010


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