Electric field pulses induce a substantial increase of the light scattering intensity of double-helical DNA. The relative change of light scattering and also the reciprocal relaxation time constants under electric field pulses increase with increasing nucleotide concentration. These observations, together with a large difference between dichroism orientation time constants and light scattering time constants under electric field pulses, demonstrate that the main part of the light scattering effect is due not to field-induced orientation but to interactions between DNA helices. From the concentration dependence of the light scattering time constants we obtain, according to an isodesmic reaction model, association rate constants in the range 3 × 1010M-1helices s-1for DNA with approx. 300 base-pairs. These values are at the limit of a diffusion-controlled DNA association and do not show any dependence upon the field strength. The dissociation rate constants kddecrease strongly with increasing field strength E and thus demonstrate that the interactions between the helices are induced by the electric field. This conclusion is consistent with independent measurements which do not reveal any DNA association at zero field strength. The observed linear relation between log(kd) and E2suggests a field-induced reaction driven by dipole changes. According to this interpretation the change of dipole moment should be in the range of approx. 1400 debye. The dissociation rates for DNA helices with approx. 300 to approx. 800 base-pairs strongly increase with increasing sail concentration (measured in the range 1-5 mM ionic strength), whereas the association rate constants remain virtually unchanged. Measurements of the linear dichroism in the same range of DNA chain length demonstrate that for long field pulses of e.g., 40 μs, the amplitude approaches a maximum value and then decreases. The dichroism relaxation curves observed after long field pulses exhibit a component with a positive dichroism and an increased decay time. These observations suggest the formation of a DNA aggregate with an unusual arrangement of the bases. © 1984.
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