Theoretical analysis of the kinetics of DNA hybridization with gel-immobilized oligonucleotides

Biophys J. 1996 Nov;71(5):2795-801. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(96)79473-0.


A new method of DNA sequencing by hybridization using a microchip containing a set of immobilized oligonucleotides is being developed. A theoretical analysis is presented of the kinetics of DNA hybridization with deoxynucleotide molecules chemically tethered in a polyacrylamide gel layer. The analysis has shown that long-term evolution of the spatial distribution and of the amount of DNA bound in a hybridization cell is governed by "retarded diffusion," i.e., diffusion of the DNA interrupted by repeated association and dissociation with immobile oligonucleotide molecules. Retarded diffusion determines the characteristic time of establishing a final equilibrium state in a cell, i.e., the state with the maximum quantity and a uniform distribution of bound DNA. In the case of cells with the most stable, perfect duplexes, the characteristic time of retarded diffusion (which is proportional to the equilibrium binding constant and to the concentration of binding sites) can be longer than the duration of the real hybridization procedure. This conclusion is indirectly confirmed by the observation of nonuniform fluorescence of labeled DNA in perfect-match hybridization cells (brighter at the edges). For optimal discrimination of perfect duplexes from duplexes with mismatches the hybridization process should be brought to equilibrium under low-temperature nonsaturation conditions for all cells. The kinetic differences between perfect and nonperfect duplexes in the gel allow further improvement in the discrimination through additional washing at low temperature after hybridization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Diffusion
  • Gels
  • Kinetics
  • Mathematics
  • Motion
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / chemistry*


  • Gels
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • DNA