Attraction between DNA molecules mediated by multivalent ions
The effective force between two parallel DNA molecules is calculated as a function of their mutual separation for different valencies of counterion and salt ions and different salt concentrations. Computer simulations of the primitive model are used and the shape of the DNA molecules is accurately modeled using different geometrical shapes. We find that multivalent ions induce a significant attraction between the DNA molecules whose strength can be tuned by the averaged valency of the ions. The physical origin of the attraction is traced back either to electrostatics or to entropic contributions. For multivalent counterions and monovalent salt ions, we find a salt-enhanced repulsion effect: the force is first attractive but gets repulsive with increasing salt concentration. Furthermore, we show that the multivalent-ion-induced attraction does not necessarily correlate with DNA overcharging.