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A Study Of The Conditions And Mechanism Of The Diphenylamine Reaction For The Colorimetric Estimation Of Deoxyribonucleic Acid.

Kenneth Burton
Published 1956 · Chemistry, Medicine

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Of the colour reactions available for the determination and identification of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the reaction with diphenylamine in a mixture of acetic and sulphuric acids at 1000 (Dische, 1930) has been perhaps the most widely used. The present study arose from the observation that a more intense colour was sometimes produced if, instead of being heated at 1000 for 10 min., the reaction mixture was allowed to stand overnight at room temperature. As a result of this observation the procedure has been modified, principally by adding acetaldehyde to the reagents and by allowing the solution to stand for about 17 hr. at 30° instead of heating it at 1000. The modified method is 3-5 times as sensitive as Dische's original procedure, and several substances which interfere in the original method do not do so in the modified procedure. Some observations on the mechanism of the reaction have been made; in particular it was discovered that there is a liberation of inorganic orthophosphate from DNA during the early stages of the reaction. This finding has a bearing on the structure of DNA. The modified method has already been used in an investigation of nucleic acid metabolism during bacteriophage multiplication (Burton, 1955).
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