Counterion Distribution around DNA Probed by Solution X-Ray Scattering
Counterion atmospheres condensed onto charged biopolymers strongly affect their physical properties and biological functions, but have been difficult to quantify experimentally. Here, monovalent and divalent counterion atmospheres around DNA double helices in solution are probed using small-angle x-ray scattering techniques. Modulation of the ion scattering factors by anomalous (resonant) x-ray scattering and by interchanging ion identities yields direct measurements of the scattering signal due to the spatial correlation of surrounding ions to the DNA. The quality of the data permit, for the first time, quantitative tests of extended counterion distributions calculated from atomic-scale models of biologically relevant molecules.