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      The number of superhelical turns in native virion SV40 DNA and minicol DNA determined by the band counting method.

      Cell

      DNA, Bacterial, Sodium Chloride, Simian virus 40, drug effects, Nucleic Acid Conformation, Methods, pharmacology, Magnesium, Ethidium, Electrophoresis, Agar Gel, Densitometry, DNA, Viral

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          Abstract

          By a method of overlapping the results obtained after agarose gel electrophoresis under two different sets of conditions, it has become possible to determine the number of superhelical turns in a given DNA by counting the bands present after partially relaxing the DNA (Keller and Wendel, 1974) with highly purified nicking-closing (N-C) enzyme from LA9 mouse cell nuclei. Because native supercoiled DNA is heterogeneous with respect to superhelix density, an average number of superhelical turns was determined. Virion SV40 DNA contains 26 +/- 0.5 superhelical turns, and native Minicol DNA contains 19 +/- 0.5 superhelical turns. The above are values at 0.2 M NaCl and at 37 degrees C, the condition under which the enzymatic relaxations were performed. The superhelix densities determined by the band counting method have been compared with superhelix densities determined by buoyant equilibrium in PDl-CsCl gradients. The Gray, Upholt, and Vinograd (1971) calculation procedure has been used for evaluating the superhelix densities by the latter method with the new statement, however, that relaxed DNA has zero superhelical turns. Comparison of the superhelix densities obtained by both methods permits a calculation of an unwinding angle for ethidium. The mean value from experiments with SV40 DNA is 23 +/- 3 degree. The average number of superhelical turns in SV40, 26, combined with the value, 21, obtained by both Griffith (1975) and Germond et al. (1975) for the average number of nucleosomes per SV40 genome, yields an average of 1.25 superhelical turns per 1/21 of the SV40 genome. If the regions of internucleosomal DNA are fully relaxed, 1.25 correesponds to the average number of superhelical turns with a nucleosome. When analyzed under identical conditions, the limit product generated by ligating a nicked circular substrate in the presence of 0.001 M Mg2+ at 37 degrees C (ligation conditions) is slightly more positively supercoiled than the limit product obtained when the N-C reaction is performed in 0.2 M NaCl at 37 degrees C. The difference in superhelix density as measured in gels between the two sets of limit products for both Minicol and SV40 DNAs is 0.0059 +/- 0.0005. This result indicates that the DNA duplex is overwound in the ligation solvent relative to its state in 0.2 M NaCl.

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          183892

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