We performed monomolecular observations on linear and circular giant DNAs (208 kbp) in an aqueous solution by the use of fluorescence microscopy. The results showed that the degree of conformational fluctuation in circular DNA was ca. 40% less than that in linear DNA, although the long-axis length of circular DNA was only 10% smaller than that of linear DNA. Additionally, the relaxation time of a circular chain was shorter than that of a linear chain by at least one order of magnitude. The essential features of this marked difference between linear and circular DNAs were reproduced by numerical simulations on a ribbon-like macromolecule as a coarse-grained model of a long semiflexible, double-helical DNA molecule. In addition, we calculated the radius of gyration of an interacting chain in a circular form on the basis of the mean field model, which provides a better understanding of the present experimental trend than a traditional theoretical equation.

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