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Divalent counterion-induced condensation of triple-strand DNA

Understanding and manipulation of the forces assembling DNA/RNA helices have broad implications for biology, medicine, and physics. One subject of significance is the attractive force between dsDNA mediated by polycations of valence ≥3. Despite extensive studies, the physical origin of the “like-charge attraction” remains unsettled among competing theories. Here we show that triplestrand DNA (tsDNA), a more highly charged helix than dsDNA, is precipitated by alkaline-earth divalent cations that are unable to condense dsDNA. We further show that our observation is general by examining several cations (Mg2þ, Ba2þ, and Ca2þ) and two distinct tsDNA constructs. Cation-condensed tsDNA forms ordered hexagonal arrays that redissolve upon adding monovalent salts.

Divalent counterion-induced condensation of triple-strand DNA


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