Diffusion NMR-based comparison of electrostatic influences of DNA on various monovalent cations


      Counterions are important constituents for the structure and function of nucleic acids. Using 7Li and 133Cs nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, we investigated how ionic radii affect the behavior of counterions around DNA through diffusion measurements of Li+ and Cs+ ions around a 15-bp DNA duplex. Together with our previous data on 23Na+ and 15NH4+ ions around the same DNA under the same conditions, we were able to compare the dynamics of four different monovalent ions around DNA. From the apparent diffusion coefficients at varied concentrations of DNA, we determined the diffusion coefficients of these cations inside and outside the ion atmosphere around DNA (Db and Df, respectively). We also analyzed ionic competition with K+ ions for the ion atmosphere and assessed the relative affinities of these cations for DNA. Interestingly, all cations (i.e., Li+, Na+, NH4+, and Cs+) analyzed by diffusion NMR spectroscopy exhibited nearly identical Db/Df ratios despite the differences in their ionic radii, relative affinities, and diffusion coefficients. These results, along with the theoretical relationship between diffusion and entropy, suggest that the entropy change due to the release of counterions from the ion atmosphere around DNA is also similar regardless of the monovalent ion types. These findings and the experimental diffusion data on the monovalent ions are useful for examination of computational models for electrostatic interactions or ion solvation.
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