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Biophys J. 2002 Jan;82(1 Pt 1):19-28.

Fluid mechanics of DNA double-strand filter elution.

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Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York 14260, USA.


Measurement of infrequent DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) in mammalian cells is essential for the understanding of cell damage by ionizing radiation and many DNA-reactive drugs. One of the most important assays for measuring DSB in cellular DNA is filter elution. This study is an attempt to determine whether standard concepts of fluid mechanics can yield a self-consistent model of this process. Major assumptions of the analysis are reptation through a channel formed by surrounding strands, with only strand ends captured by filter pores. Both viscosity and entanglement with surrounding strands are considered to determine the resistance to this motion. One important result is that the average elution time of a strand depends not only on its length, but also on the size distribution of the surrounding strands. This model is consistent with experimental observations, such as the dependence of elution kinetics upon radiation dose, but independence from the size of the DNA sample up to a critical filter loading, and possible overlap of elution times for strands of different length. It indicates how the dependence of elution time on the flow rate could reveal the relative importance of viscous and entanglement resistance, and also predicts the consequences of using different filters.

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