Thermodynamics of cation-induced DNA condensation.

Journal of biomolecular structure & dynamics

PubMedID: 1838258

Marquet R, Houssier C. Thermodynamics of cation-induced DNA condensation. J Biomol Struct Dyn. 1991;9(1):159-67.
An estimation of the various free energy contributions to DNA collapse into toroidal particles is made, considering DNA bending and segment mobility, electrostatic repulsions between DNA chains, and attractive forces resulting from correlated counterion fluctuations. It is shown that the process of DNA condensation becomes spontaneous in the presence of divalent cations in methanol, and in the presence of tri- or tetravalent cations in water media. This is a consequence of the large decrease in the electrostatic repulsion between charged DNA segments, allowing the attractive force resulting from correlated fluctuations of bound counterions to become dominant. Our calculations indicate that short DNA fragments would condense into multimolecular particles in order to maximize the attractive force due to counterion fluctuations.