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Keywords:

  • Base-pair orientation;
  • DNA;
  • X-ray diffraction

The sensitivity of DNA base-pair stacking to water content, as shown here, may be responsible for widely different transport results reported in the literature. Oriented films of a DNA–surfactant complex in which aligned double helices are separated by 4.1 nm, with face-to-face base-pair stacking, bases separated by 0.34 nm, and good π–π overlap, are examined. Dehydration drives the base pairs from parallel planar packing to edge packing with poor π–π overlap (see Figure).