Coulombic interactions of salt ions with polymeric and oligomeric nucleic acids in solution have large and distinctive effects on ion distributions, on thermodynamic coefficients, and hence on equilibrium processes involving nucleic acids, such as their conformational transitions and binding interactions. In experimental or theoretical studies where an oligonucleotide is taken to represent the corresponding polynucleotide, the impact of coulombic end effects on molecular and thermodynamic properties must be taken into account. Observable consequences of coulombic interactions in nucleic acid solutions have been calculated by using models with varying degrees of detail and methods formulated at varying levels of rigor. From comparisons of experimental results with predictions of the prevalent theoretical approaches, this review concludes that the more rigorous methods have proved capable of accounting for thermodynamic (and some molecular) consequences of coulombic interactions with a minimal number of preaveraged parameters that represent the most important structural features of the nucleic acid solution.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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