Unsustainable DNA molecule when unfolded to be in a line

In summary, the conversation discusses the length of unfolded DNA molecules and their thermodynamic stability. The physicist, Constantino Tsalis, mentions that the DNA molecule can reach up to one meter in length when unfolded, but this configuration is considered unlikely due to thermodynamic principles. The discussion delves into the specifics of the molecular structure and its potential for breaking bonds under thermal energy. The comparison of a long, unfolded DNA molecule to an overcooked strand of spaghetti is used to illustrate the scale of this concept. Overall, the conversation highlights the challenges and limitations of understanding the stability of DNA molecules.
  • #1
DaTario
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35
Hello,

Some years ago I have heard from the brazilian physicist, Constantino Tsalis, that the DNA molecule, if unfolded and made to lay in a line, will be close to one meter long. But he said that thermodynamically this configuration could be taken as an impossibility, for no such long and linear molecule could exist for long time. Is there any clear principle in thermodynamics that put the things in this terms?

Best Regards,

DaTario
 
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  • #2
DaTario said:
close to one meter long.
Numbers that get thrown around for DNA run on the order of magnitude of billions of base pairs. Dimension of a single unit at one nm isn't too bad (ten atoms). That works out to an unraveled length of the order of one to couple meters.
Base units (including the ribose chains) run 25-30 atoms each. 3 x1010 times three degrees of freedom per atom is a heat capacity of 1011kB. Bond energies for organic compounds are of the order of four to five hundred kJ/mol. That works out to a maximum chain length of a few hundred atoms before there is sufficient energy stored in two sections of the chain to pull bonds apart if the situation is such that bond strength is the only thing holding the chain together.
 
  • #3
Sorry, but are you considering that the weight of the chain is the responsible for the breaking?

best wishes,

DaTario
 
  • #4
DaTario said:
that the weight of the chain is the responsible for the breaking?
Not the weight, but the thermal energy in some length of the chain is sufficient to break bonds. Or, the bond is of insufficient strength to play "crack the whip" with the lengths of the chain to either side.
 
  • #5
If you try imagining the scale that we're talking about, a meter-long chain of nanometer-sized units... That's like a single strand of overcooked angel-hair spaghetti several hundreds of kilometers long.
 
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  • #6
Nugatory said:
overcooked angel-hair spaghetti several hundreds of kilometers long.
And King Kong trying to use it for a jump rope. Perfect analogy.
 
  • #7
Ok, thank you a lot to both. The analogy was very nice.

Best Regards,

DaTario
 

1. What is an unsustainable DNA molecule when unfolded to be in a line?

An unsustainable DNA molecule when unfolded to be in a line refers to a single strand of DNA that has been stretched out and is no longer able to maintain its regular double helix structure. This can occur due to external factors such as high temperatures or chemical exposure, or due to internal issues such as mutations or errors in DNA replication.

2. How does an unsustainable DNA molecule affect living organisms?

An unsustainable DNA molecule can have detrimental effects on living organisms. It can lead to genetic disorders, mutations, and cell death. It can also affect the ability of an organism to carry out essential biological processes such as DNA replication and protein synthesis.

3. Can an unsustainable DNA molecule be repaired?

In some cases, an unsustainable DNA molecule can be repaired by enzymes and proteins within the cell that can recognize and correct errors in the DNA sequence. However, if the damage is severe, the cell may not be able to repair it and may undergo cell death.

4. How can an unsustainable DNA molecule be prevented?

An unsustainable DNA molecule can be prevented by minimizing exposure to external factors that can damage DNA, such as UV radiation and certain chemicals. Regular maintenance of DNA repair mechanisms within the cell can also help prevent unsustainable DNA.

5. What are the consequences of an unsustainable DNA molecule for future generations?

If an unsustainable DNA molecule occurs in germ cells (sperm or egg cells), it can be passed on to future generations and potentially lead to genetic disorders or mutations in offspring. It is important to prevent unsustainable DNA in order to maintain the integrity of genetic information for future generations.

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