Visualizing Ion Relaxation in the Transport of Short DNA Fragments


Ion relaxation plays an important role in a wide range of phenomena involving the transport of charged biomolecules. Ion relaxation is responsible for reducing sedimentation and diffusion constants, reducing electrophoretic mobilities, increasing intrinsic viscosities, and, for biomolecules that lack a permanent electric dipole moment, provides a mechanism for orienting them in an external electric field. Recently, a numerical boundary element method was developed to solve the coupled Navier-Stokes, Poisson, and ion transport equations for a polyion modeled as a rigid body of arbitrary size, shape, and charge distribution. This method has subsequently been used to compute the electrophoretic mobilities and intrinsic viscosities of a number of model proteins and DNA fragments. The primary purpose of the present work is to examine the effect of ion relaxation on the ion density and fluid velocity fields around short DNA fragments (20 and 40 bp). Contour density as well as vector field diagrams of the various scalar and vector fields are presented and discussed at monovalent salt concentrations of 0.03 and 0.11 M. In addition, the net charge current fluxes in the vicinity of the DNA fragments at low and high salt concentrations are briefly examined and discussed.


Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences

Publication Date


Journal Title

Biophysical Journal



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type