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Influence of tetraalkyl ammonium ions on the structure of poly (rG-dC).poly (rG-dC): unexpected transitions among the Z, A and B conformations.

The conformation of the double-stranded, mixed ribodeoxyribo polynucleotide, poly (rG-dC).poly (rG-dC), has been examined in the presence of tetraalkyl ammonium ions. Tetramethyl ammonium ion stabilizes the "low salt" Z conformation (1) of the polymer from submillimolar to molar concentrations of the counterion. In the presence of tetraethyl and tetrapropyl ammonium ions the polymer exists in the low salt Z form up to 2 mM concentration of the counterions and then flips to the right hand helical A form. With tetrabutyl ammonium counterions the polymer is in an A conformation at low ion concentrations and converts to a B form at concentrations greater than thirty millimolar. These results are interpreted in terms of electrostatic and solvent interactions of the polynucleotide.