Spectrophotometric, potentiometric, and density gradient ultracentrifugation studies of the binding of silver ion by DNA



The equilibrium and the stoichiometry for the reversible complexing of silver ion by DNA have been studied by potentiometric titrations, proton release pH-stat titrations, and by spectrophotometry. The complexing reactions involve primarily the purine and pyrimidine residues, not the phosphate groups. There are at least three types of binding (types I, II, and III), of which the first two have been intensively studied in this work. The sum of type I and type II binding saturates at one silver atom per two nucleotide residues. In the type I and type II reactions, zero and one proton, respectively, are displaced per silver ion bound. At pH 5.6, the reactions occur stepwise, type I being first, while at pH 8.0, they occur simultaneously. The silver ion binding curve is very sharp at pH 8, indicating a cooperative reaction. The strength of the binding increases with increasing GC content. Type I binding is more important for GC-rich DNA's than for GC-poor ones. Denatured DNA binds more strongly than does native DNA. The silver ion complexing reaction is chemically and biologically reversible. We propose that type II binding essentially involves the conversion of an equation image hydrogen bond of a complementary base pair to an N—Ag—N bond. The nature of type I binding is less clear, but it may involve a π interaction with stacked bases. The buoyant density (ρ0) of DNA in a Cs2SO4 density gradient increases when the DNA reacts with silver ion. The buoyant density change is about 0.15 g./ml. for 0.5 silver bound per nucleotide. The large buoyant density changes and the selective nature of the complexing reaction make it possible to perform good separations between native and denatured DNA or between GC-rich and GC-poor native DNA's by density gradient centrifugation.