To investigate the effects of heating rate on the DNA melting profile and to test the predictions of the theory of slow relaxation processes in DNA melting (1) concerning these effects, we obtained differential melting curves for the Bsp I C1 fragment of T7 DNA (1461 bp) and the Sma I-Eco RI fragment of Col E1 DNA (1291 bp) at heating rates of 0.05 and 0.5 deg/min. At low ionic strength (0.02 M Na+ ) the heating rate has been shown to affect the position of the third peak in melting curve for C1 fragment. According to the melting maps (2), this peak corresponds to the unwinding of the section between the end of the molecule and he region already melted. At high ionic strength (0.2 M Na+ ), when the melting of this DNA is reversible (3), the position of the peaks does not depend on the heating rate. In the case of the Col E1 DNA fragment the heating rate affects, as might be expected from the melting maps (4), only the last peak, as the melting of the last section is always nonequilibrium. The results of the study are in good qualitative agreement and in satisfactory quantitative agreement with the theoretical predictions (1).
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