The binding of magnesium ions to surface-bound single-stranded oligonucleotides was studied under aqueous conditions using second harmonic generation (SHG) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The effect of strand length on the number of Mg(II) ions bound and their free binding energy was examined for 5-, 10-, 15-, and 20-mers of adenine and guanine at pH 7, 298 K, and 10 mM NaCl. The binding free energies for adenine and guanine sequences were calculated to be -32.1(4) and -35.6(2) kJ/mol, respectively, and invariant with strand length. Furthermore, the ion density for adenine oligonucleotides did not change as strand length increased, with an average value of 2(1) ions/strand. In sharp contrast, guanine oligonucleotides displayed a linear relationship between strand length and ion density, suggesting that cooperativity is important. This data gives predictive capabilities for mixed strands of various lengths, which we exploit for 20-mers of adenines and guanines. In addition, the role sequence order plays in strands of hetero-oligonucleotides was examined for 5′-A10G10-3′, 5′-(AG) 10-3′, and 5′-G10A10-3′ (here the -3′ end is chemically modified to bind to the surface). Although the free energy of binding is the same for these three strands (averaged to be -33.3(4) kJ/mol), the total ion density increases when several guanine residues are close to the 3′ end (and thus close to the solid support substrate). To further understand these results, we analyzed the height profiles of the functionalized surfaces with tapping-mode atomic force microscopy (AFM). When comparing the average surface height profiles of the oligonucleotide surfaces pre- and post- Mg(II) binding, a positive correlation was found between ion density and the subsequent height decrease following Mg(II) binding, which we attribute to reductions in Coulomb repulsion and strand collapse once a critical number of Mg(II) ions are bound to the strand.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry