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Keywords:

  • gold nanoparticles;
  • DNA compaction;
  • DNA denaturing;
  • cationic ligands;
  • DNA-nanoparticle interactions
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Weakly charged cationic nanoparticles cause structural changes including local denaturing and compaction to DNA under mild conditions. The charged ligands bind to the phosphate backbone of DNA and the uncharged ligands penetrate the helix and disrupt base pairing. Mobility shifts in electrophoresis, molecular dynamics, and UV-vis spectrophotometry give clues to the details of the interactions.