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Effects of Molecular Size and Surface Hydrophobicity on Oligonucleotide Interfacial Dynamics

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journal contribution
posted on 10.12.2012, 00:00 by Jon H. Monserud, Daniel K. Schwartz
Single-molecule total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy was used to observe the dynamic behavior of polycytosine single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) (1–50 nucleotides long) at the interface between aqueous solution and hydrophilic (oligoethylene glycol-modified fused silica, OEG) and hydrophobic (octadecyltriethoxysilane-modified fused silica, OTES) solid surfaces. High throughput molecular tracking was used to determine >75 000 molecular trajectories for each molecular length, which were then used to calculate surface residence time and squared displacement (i.e., “step-size”) distributions. On hydrophilic OEG surfaces, the surface residence time increased systematically with ssDNA chain length, as expected due to increasing molecule–surface interactions. Interestingly, the residence time decreased with increasing ssDNA length on the hydrophobic OTES surface, particularly for longer chains. Similarly, the interfacial mobility of polynucleotides slowed with increasing chain length on OEG, but became faster on OTES. On OTES surfaces, the rates associated with desorption and surface diffusion exhibited the distinctive anomalous temperature dependence that is characteristic of hydrophobic interactions for short-chain species but not for longer chains. These combined observations suggest that long oligonucleotides adopt conformations minimizing hydrophobic interactions, e.g., by internal sequestration of hydrophobic nucleobases.