UNIT 7.14 Determination of Nucleic Acid Hydration Using Osmotic Stress

  1. Eriks Rozners

Published Online: 1 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/0471142700.nc0714s43

Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry

Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry

How to Cite

Rozners, E. 2010. Determination of Nucleic Acid Hydration Using Osmotic Stress. Current Protocols in Nucleic Acid Chemistry. 43:7.14:7.14.1–7.14.13.

Author Information

  1. Binghamton University, The State University of New York, Binghamton, New York

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 DEC 2010
  2. Published Print: DEC 2010


Water plays an important role in structure and molecular recognition of biopolymers. Understanding hydration of biopolymers is a significant problem in structural chemistry and biology. However, hydration is a dynamic process that is difficult to study. While X-ray crystallography, NMR, and molecular modeling have provided structural detail on nucleic acid hydration and valuable insights into water dynamics, the thermodynamic contribution of water molecules to conformational equilibria and recognition of nucleic acids remains poorly understood. This unit describes a thermodynamic analysis of nucleic acid hydration using osmotic stress. Osmotic stress monitors the depression of melting temperature upon decreasing water activity, and calculates the number of thermodynamically unique water molecules associated with the double helix and released from single strands upon melting. Comparison of the number of water molecules released upon melting of nucleic acids with different sequences and chemical modifications provides insights that complement and enhance information obtained by other methods. Curr. Protoc. Nucleic Acid Chem. 43:7.14.1-7.14.13. © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • hydration;
  • nucleic acids;
  • thermodynamics;
  • osmotic stress