SANS study of the interactions among DNA, a cationic surfactant, and polystyrene latex particles
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The compaction of DNA by a cationic surfactant both in the bulk and adsorbed on the surface of latex particles was followed for the first time by SANS. In the bulk, a decrease in the overall size of the DNA coil in the presence of the cationic surfactant was observed at a negative-to-positive charge ratio far below the phase separation region, at a negative-to-positive charge ratio of 18. Additionally, large surfactant aggregates seem to form within the DNA-surfactant complex. On the other hand, DNA adsorbs onto the surface of latex particles, forming a thick layer, as evidenced by the fitting of the SANS data to a core-shell form factor. Addition of a cationic surfactant to the DNA-coated latex particles at a negative-to-positive charge ratio of 38 induces a slight decrease in the size of the particle layer, where the cationic surfactant is evenly distributed within the adsorbed layer. A further decrease of the negative-to-positive charge ratio to 18 induces a dramatic change in the SANS data that suggests significant compaction of the adsorbed layer and the formation of large surfactant aggregates, similar to those detected in the bulk.