Biophysical journal

Probing the electrostatic shielding of DNA with capillary electrophoresis.

PMID 12609887


The free solution mobility of a 20-bp double-stranded DNA oligomer has been measured in diethylmalonate (DM) and Tris-acetate buffers, with and without added NaCl or TrisCl. DM buffers have the advantage that the buffering ion is anionic, so the cation composition in the solution can be varied at will. The results indicate that the free solution mobility of DNA decreases linearly with the logarithm of ionic strength when the ionic strength is increased by increasing the buffer concentration. The mobility also decreases linearly with the logarithm of ionic strength when NaCl is added to NaDM buffer or TrisCl is added to TrisDM buffer. Nonlinear effects are observed if the counterion in the added salt differs from the counterion in the buffer. The dependence of the mobility on ionic strength cannot be predicted using the Henry, Debye-Hückel-Onsager, or Pitts equations for electrophoresis. However, the mobilities observed in all buffer and buffer/salt solutions can be predicted within approximately 20% by the Manning equation for electrophoresis, using no adjustable parameters. The results suggest that the electrostatic shielding of DNA is determined not only by the relative concentrations of the various ions in the solution, but also by their equivalent conductivities.

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Diethylmalonic acid, 98%