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A universal description for the experimental behavior of salt-(in)dependent oligocation-induced DNA condensation.


We report a systematic study of the condensation of plasmid DNA by oligocations with variation of the charge, Z, from +3 to +31. The oligocations include a series of synthetic linear ε-oligo(L-lysines), (denoted εKn, n = 3–10, 31; n is the number of lysines with the ligand charge Z = n+1) and branched α-substituted homologues of εK10: εYK10, εLK10 (Z = +11); εRK10, εYRK10 and εLYRK10 (Z = +21). Data were obtained by light scattering, UV absorption monitored precipitation assay and isothermal titration calorimetry in a wide range concentrations of DNA and monovalent salt (KCl, CKCl). The dependence of EC50 (ligand concentration at the midpoint of DNA condensation) on C(KCl) shows the existence of a salt-independent regime at low C(KCl) and a salt-dependent regime with a steep rise of EC50 with increase of C(KCl). Increase of the ligand charge shifts the transition from the salt-independent to salt-dependent regime to higher C(KCl). A novel and simple relationship describing the EC50 dependence on DNA concentration, charge of the ligand and the salt-dependent dissociation constant of the ligand–DNA complex is derived. For the ε-oligolysines εK6–εK10, the experimental dependencies of EC50 on C(KCl) and Z are well-described by an equation with a common set of parameters. Implications from our findings for understanding DNA condensation in chromatin are discussed.


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    Nucleic acids research 40:6 2012 Mar pg 2808-21


    Chemical Precipitation
    Particle Size
    Potassium Chloride
    Scattering, Radiation
    Static Electricity

    Pub Type(s)

    Corrected and Republished Article
    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't



    PubMed ID