"salt of DNA"

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steve9191
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"salt of DNA"

Post by steve9191 » Thu May 29, 2008 11:35 pm

Watson and Crick wrote:"We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.)."


As a non-scientific writer, when I ran across this quote I was a little confused. I know that DNA is an acid, I just can't figure out how salt got into the picture. Through Google searches, I tried to get answers to my questions about this quote, but have been largely unsuccessful. If anybody here would be kind enough to help out a scientific "outsider", I sure would be grateful.

Is it accurate to say that DNA is a salt, or is it more accurate to say that DNA contains/produces salt? Does salt, somehow, have an impact on the functioning of DNA?

Thanks, Steve

blcr11
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Re: "salt of DNA"

Post by blcr11 » Fri May 30, 2008 12:07 am

The phosphates of the DNA polymer are negatively charged. They will bind a cation as a counterion to achieve electroneutrality--usually Na+ or K+. That makes the polymer a "salt" of [Na+]x[DNA-].

steve9191
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Post by steve9191 » Fri May 30, 2008 12:29 am

Super. Thanks!

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