Self-diffusion in solutions of a 20 base pair oligonucleotide: Effects of concentration and ionic strength
The long-time self-diffusion coefficients of a 20 base pair duplex oligonucleotide are measured as functions of 20-mer and added NaCl salt concentrations. The self-diffusion coefficients decrease monotonically with increasing 20-mer concentrations for the high-added salt sample and display non-monotonically decreasing 20-mer concentration dependences at lower added salt concentrations. The non-monotonic behavior is attributed to the opposing effects of the tendency to increase the interactions between 20-mers as the concentration is increased and to a decrease in the extent of the Coulomb forces as counterions from the 20-mer increasingly screen them. Attempts to account for the effect of the Coulomb forces on the self-diffusion coefficients by using effective dimensions in the hard rod theory give good agreement with experiment at the highest salt concentration studied. For the lower salt concentrations there appear to be two scaling regimes-one at low polyion concentration in which the high salt scaling of the rod dimensions by adding the Debye screening to the length and diameter of the rod is appropriate and one at high polyion concentrations where the scaling of the dimensions is the addition of 1/2 the Debye screening length. Estimates of the “overlap” concentration C∗ = 1/Leff indicate that the non-monotonic decrease occurs at concentrations lower than C∗. Finally, the fluorescence correlation spectroscopy self-diffusion coefficients measured here are compared with the mutual diffusion coefficients measured by dynamic light scattering. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.