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Creators/Authors contains: "Kolomeisky, Anatoly B."

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 26, 2024
  2. The synaptic protein–DNA complexes, formed by specialized proteins that bridge two or more distant sites on DNA, are critically involved in various genetic processes. However, the molecular mechanism by which the protein searches for these sites and how it brings them together is not well understood. Our previous studies directly visualized search pathways used by SfiI, and we identified two pathways, DNA threading and site-bound transfer pathways, specific to the site-search process for synaptic DNA–protein systems. To investigate the molecular mechanism behind these site-search pathways, we assembled complexes of SfiI with various DNA substrates corresponding to different transient states and measured their stability using a single-molecule fluorescence approach. These assemblies corresponded to specific–specific (synaptic), non-specific–non-specific (non-specific), and specific–non-specific (pre-synaptic) SfiI–DNA states. Unexpectedly, an elevated stability in pre-synaptic complexes assembled with specific and non-specific DNA substrates was found. To explain these surprising observations, a theoretical approach that describes the assembly of these complexes and compares the predictions with the experiment was developed. The theory explains this effect by utilizing entropic arguments, according to which, after the partial dissociation, the non-specific DNA template has multiple possibilities of rebinding, effectively increasing the stability. Such difference in the stabilities of SfiI complexes with specific and non-specific DNA explains the utilization of threading and site-bound transfer pathways in the search process of synaptic protein–DNA complexes discovered in the time-lapse AFM experiments.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
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  6. Abstract Evolution is the main feature of all biological systems that allows populations to change their characteristics over successive generations. A powerful approach to understand evolutionary dynamics is to investigate fixation probabilities and fixation times of novel mutations on networks that mimic biological populations. It is now well established that the structure of such networks can have dramatic effects on evolutionary dynamics. In particular, there are population structures that might amplify the fixation probabilities while simultaneously delaying the fixation events. However, the microscopic origins of such complex evolutionary dynamics remain not well understood. We present here a theoretical investigation of the microscopic mechanisms of mutation fixation processes on inhomogeneous networks. It views evolutionary dynamics as a set of stochastic transitions between discrete states specified by different numbers of mutated cells. By specifically considering star networks, we obtain a comprehensive description of evolutionary dynamics. Our approach allows us to employ physics-inspired free-energy landscape arguments to explain the observed trends in fixation times and fixation probabilities, providing a better microscopic understanding of evolutionary dynamics in complex systems. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 21, 2024
  7. Modern chemical science and industries critically depend on the application of various catalytic methods. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of these processes still remain not fully understood. Recent experimental advances that produced highly-efficient nanoparticle catalysts allowed researchers to obtain more quantitative descriptions, opening the way to clarify the microscopic picture of catalysis. Stimulated by these developments, we present a minimal theoretical model that investigates the effect of heterogeneity in catalytic processes at the single-particle level. Using a discrete-state stochastic framework that accounts for the most relevant chemical transitions, we explicitly evaluated the dynamics of chemical reactions on single heterogeneous nanocatalysts with different types of active sites. It is found that the degree of stochastic noise in nanoparticle catalytic systems depends on several factors that include the heterogeneity of catalytic efficiencies of active sites and distinctions between chemical mechanisms on different active sites. The proposed theoretical approach provides a single-molecule view of heterogeneous catalysis and also suggests possible quantitative routes to clarify some important molecular details of nanocatalysts. 
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  8. The interplay between the mechanical properties of double-stranded and single-stranded DNA is a phenomenon that contributes to various genetic processes in which both types of DNA structures coexist. Highly stiff DNA duplexes can stretch single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) segments between the duplexes in a topologically constrained domain. To evaluate such an effect, we designed short DNA nanorings in which a DNA duplex with 160 bp is connected by a 30 nt single-stranded DNA segment. The stretching effect of the duplex in such a DNA construct can lead to the elongation of ssDNA, and this effect can be measured directly using atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging. In AFM images of the nanorings, the ssDNA regions were identified, and the end-to-end distance of ssDNA was measured. The data revealed a stretching of the ssDNA segment with a median end-to-end distance which was 16% higher compared with the control. These data are in line with theoretical estimates of the stretching of ssDNA by the rigid DNA duplex holding the ssDNA segment within the nanoring construct. Time-lapse AFM data revealed substantial dynamics of the DNA rings, allowing for the formation of transient crossed nanoring formations with end-to-end distances as much as 30% larger than those of the longer-lived morphologies. The generated nanorings are an attractive model system for investigation of the effects of mechanical stretching of ssDNA on its biochemical properties, including interaction with proteins. 
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