Collect. Czech. Chem. Commun. 1979, 44, 448-455

Absence of unwinding of double-helical DNA in the surface of mercury electrode charged to DNA reduction potentials at neutral pH

Emil Palečeka and Sianette Kweeb

a Institute of Biophysics, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, 612 65 Brno
b Institute of Medical Biochemistry, University of Aarhus, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark


The influence of adsorption of DNA on its double-stranded (ds) structure was studied with the aid of hanging mercury drop electrode (HMDE) in neutral media. Changes in DNA reducibility followed by linear sweep voltammetry served as an indication of the DNA conformational changes in the electrode surface. It has been shown that, due to contact of ds DNA with the electrode for periods many times longer than those which can be reached at the dropping mercury electrode, extensive surface denaturation of DNA can be detected only in a narrow potential range around -1.2 V. At potentials more negative than this region neither surface denaturation nor blocking of the electrode by the reduction product were observed. On the other hand, interaction of the denatured DNA with the mercury surface under the same conditions, resulted in blocking of the electrode surface by the reduction product. In agreement with the previous studies in acid media similar blocking of the surface was observed at pH 5 both with thermally denatured and ds DNAs. On the basis of the experimental data the following conclusions have been drawn: i) in neutral media the course of interfacial events of DNA is strongly dependent on DNA conformation and differs from the course suggested for acid media; ii) the deduction concerning the behavior of ds DNA on the electrode in neutral media made by other authors on the basis of their measurements in acid media is not justified.