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Carbodiimide modification of superhelical PM2 DNA: considerations regarding reaction at unpaired bases and the unwinding of superhelical DNA with chemical probes.

Superhelical PM2 DNA I can be modified with N-cyclohexyl-N'-beta-(4-methylmorpholinium)ethyl carbodiimide (CMC). The transition of the sedimentation coefficient uncorrected for buoyant density change (S20,*) vs. % reactivity in terms of base pairs shows the following characteristics. The S20,* increases by 4.5 S units upon 1% modification. There is a plateau in S20,* between 1 and 4% reactivity. The extent of reactivity was determined by buoyant density and 14C radioactive CMC binding measurements. Further reactivity was not explored since Pulleyblank and Morgan's (22) data of S20,* vs. % reactivity from 6 to 34% was previously published. The initial results obtained in this study are complementary to the cited results of the above authors. Consequently, both sets of data taken together represent a complete description of S20,* vs. % reactivity with CMC. It is shown that the model in which superhelical DNA is proposed to contain small intrastrand hairpin regions can be extended to account for the observed transitions in S20,* vs. reactivity.