Electrophoretic Transport of Single DNA Nucleotides through Nanoslits: A Molecular Dynamics Simulation Study

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There is potential for flight time based DNA sequencing involving disassembly into individual nucleotides which would pass through a nanochannel with two or more detectors. We performed molecular dynamics simulations of electrophoretic motion of single DNA nucleotides through 3 nm wide hydrophobic slits with both smooth and rough walls. The electric field (E) varied from 0.0 to 0.6 V/nm. The nucleotides adsorb and desorb from walls multiple times during their transit through the slit. The nucleotide-wall interactions differed due to nucleotide hydrophobicities and wall roughness which determined duration and frequency of nucleotide adsorptions and their velocities while adsorbed. Transient association of nucleotides with one, two, or three sodium ions occurred, but the mean association numbers (ANs) were weak functions of nucleotide type. Nucleotide-wall interactions contributed more to separation of nucleotide flight time distributions than ion association and thus indicate that nucleotide-wall interactions play a defining role in successfully discriminating between nucleotides on the basis of their flight times through nanochannels/slits. With smooth walls, smaller nucleotides moved faster, but with rough walls larger nucleotides moved faster due to fewer favorable wall adsorption sites. This indicates that roughness, or surface patterning, might be exploited to achieve better time-of-flight based discrimination between nucleotides.

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The journal of physical chemistry. B

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