G. Amici, M. Caraglio, E. Orlandini and C. Micheletti
Topologically Linked Chains in Confinement
ACS Macro Lett., 2019, 8 , 442-446
Link to online article
We examine how channel confinement affects the equilibrium properties of topologically linked ring polymers and, by contrast, of equivalent unlinked rings, too. By performing extensive simulations of semiflexible rings of different chain length, N, and channel diameter, D, we discover three notable properties purely due to linking. First, upon entering the weak confinement regime, the length of the physically linked portion, l_LK, becomes independent of chain length. Next, even when confinement is strong enough to pull apart and segregate unlinked rings, l_LK stays much larger than in the highly stretched limit. Finally, at fixed N, LK varies approximately as D^0.5, and we provide a simple scaling argument for this power−law behavior. These properties, which may hold for different link topologies, can be tested by current experimental setups on DNA rings confined in microchannels. Moreover, they could be relevant for the efficient in vivo unlinking of newly replicated bacterial chromosomes.