Measuring the translational diffusion coefficients of small DNA molecules by capillary electrophoresis

Nancy C. Stellwagen, Soffia Magnusdottir, Cecilia Gelfi, Pier Giorgio Righetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The apparent translational diffusion coefficients of four 20 base pair (bp) DNA oligonucleotides with different sequences have been measured by capillary electrophoresis, using the stopped migration method. The diffusion coefficients of the four oligomers were equal within experimental error, and averaged (120 ± 10) × 10-8 cm2 s-1 in 40 mM Tris-acetate-EDTA buffer at 25°C. Since this value is nearly identical to the translational diffusion coefficient determined for a different 20-bp oligomer using other methods, the stopped migration method can accurately measure the diffusion coefficients of small DNA oligomers. The apparent diffusion coefficient of a 118-bp DNA restriction fragment was also measured by the stopped migration method. However, the observed value was ∼25% larger than expected from other measurements, possibly because the diffusion coefficients of larger DNA molecules are somewhat dependent on the ionic strength of the solution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-397
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Capillary electrophoresis
  • DNA
  • Translational diffusion coefficients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics

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