Analytical biochemistry

Determination of melting temperature and temperature melting range for DNA with multi-peak differential melting curves.

PMID 25640587


Many factors that change the temperature position and interval of the DNA helix-coil transition often also alter the shape of multi-peak differential melting curves (DMCs). For DNAs with a multi-peak DMC, there is no agreement on the most useful definition for the melting temperature, Tm, and temperature melting width, ΔT, of the entire DNA transition. Changes in Tm and ΔT can reflect unstable variation of the shape of the DMC as well as alterations in DNA thermal stability and heterogeneity. Here, experiments and computer modeling for DNA multi-peak DMCs varying under different factors allowed testing of several methods of defining Tm and ΔT. Indeed, some of the methods give unreasonable "jagged" Tm and ΔT dependences on varying relative concentration of DNA chemical modifications (rb), [Na(+)], and GC content. At the same time, Tm determined as the helix-coil transition average temperature, and ΔT, which is proportional to the average absolute temperature deviation from this temperature, are suitable to characterize multi-peak DMCs. They give smoothly varying theoretical and experimental dependences of Tm and ΔT on rb, [Na(+)], and GC content. For multi-peak DMCs, Tm value determined in this way is the closest to the thermodynamic melting temperature (the helix-coil transition enthalpy/entropy ratio).