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Dynamics and thermal behaviour of films of oriented DNA fibres investigated using neutron scattering and calorimetry techniques

Abstract : The majority of structural studies on DNA have been carried out using fibre diffraction, while studies of its dynamics and thermal behaviour have been mainly performed in solution. When the DNA double helix is heated, it exhibits local separation of the two strands that grow in size with temperature and lead to their complete separation. This work has investigated various aspects of this phenomenon. The experiments reported in this thesis were carried out on films of oriented fibres of DNA prepared with the Wet Spinning Apparatus. Thus, sample preparation and characterisation are essential parts of the research. The structures of two forms of DNA, A and B, have been explored as a function of relative humidity at fixed ionic conditions. A method to eliminate traces of ever-present B-form contamination in A-form samples was established. The high orientation of the DNA molecules within the samples allowed us to investigate dynamical fluctuations and the melting transition of DNA using neutron scattering, which can provide the spatial information crucial to understand a phase transition, probing the static correlation length along the molecule as a function of temperature. The transition has been investigated for A and B-forms in order to understand its dependence on molecular configuration.Furthermore, after the first melting, denatured DNA films show typical glass behaviour. Their thermal relaxation has been explored using calorimetry.Neutron and X-ray inelastic scattering (INS and IXS) were used in the past to measure longitudinal phonons in fibre DNA, and the results shown disagreement. Recent INS measurements supported with phonon simulations have been crucial to understand the different dispersion curves reported to date. Experiments using INS and IXS have been carried out to continue with this investigation. Attempts to observe the transverse fluctuations associated to the thermal denaturing of DNA, never experimentally investigated before, have been made.
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Submitted on : Monday, September 24, 2012 - 11:52:26 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-00734670, version 1

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Jessica Valle Orero. Dynamics and thermal behaviour of films of oriented DNA fibres investigated using neutron scattering and calorimetry techniques. Other [cond-mat.other]. Ecole normale supérieure de lyon - ENS LYON, 2012. English. ⟨NNT : 2012ENSL0719⟩. ⟨tel-00734670⟩

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