Excluded volume and ion-ion correlation effects on the ionic atmosphere around B-DNA: Theory, simulations, and experiments

Zaven Ovanesyan*, Bharat Medasani, Marcia O. Fenley, Guillermo Iván Guerrero-García, Mónica Olvera De La Cruz, Marcelo Marucho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The ionic atmosphere around a nucleic acid regulates its stability in aqueous salt solutions. One major source of complexity in biological activities involving nucleic acids arises from the strong influence of the surrounding ions and water molecules on their structural and thermodynamic properties. Here, we implement a classical density functional theory for cylindrical polyelectrolytes embedded in aqueous electrolytes containing explicit (neutral hard sphere) water molecules at experimental solvent concentrations. Our approach allows us to include ion correlations as well as solvent and ion excluded volume effects for studying the structural and thermodynamic properties of highly charged cylindrical polyelectrolytes. Several models of size and charge asymmetric mixtures of aqueous electrolytes at physiological concentrations are studied. Our results are in good agreement with Monte Carlo simulations. Our numerical calculations display significant differences in the ion density profiles for the different aqueous electrolyte models studied. However, similar results regarding the excess number of ions adsorbed to the B-DNA molecule are predicted by our theoretical approach for different aqueous electrolyte models. These findings suggest that ion counting experimental data should not be used alone to validate the performance of aqueous DNA-electrolyte models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number225103
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number22
StatePublished - Dec 14 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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