Thermal Energy Electrons and OH-Radicals Induce Strand Breaks in DNA in an Aqueous Environment: Some Salts Offer Protection Against Strand Breaks

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Electrons and •OH-radicals have been generated by using low-energy laser pulses of 6 ns duration (1064 nm wavelength) to create plasma in a suspension of plasmid DNA (pUC19) in water. Upon thermalization, these particles induce single and double strand breakages in DNA along with possible base oxidation/base degradation. The time-evolution of the ensuing structural modifications has been measured; damage to DNA is seen to occur within 30 s of laser irradiation. The time-evolution is also measured upon addition of physiologically relevant concentrations of salts containing monovalent, divalent, or trivalent alkali ions. It is shown that some alkali ions can significantly inhibit strand breakages while some do not. The inhibition is due to electrostatic shielding of DNA, but significantly, the extent of such shielding is seen to depend on how each alkali ion binds to DNA. Results of experiments on strand breakages induced by thermalized particles produced upon plasma-induced photolysis of water, and their inhibition, suggest implications beyond studies of DNA; they open new vistas for utilizing simple nanosecond lasers to explore the effect of ultralow energy radiation on living matter under physiologically relevant conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1508-1514
Number of pages7
JournalThe journal of physical chemistry. A
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 27-02-2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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